DOI: 10.3390/polym16060728 ISSN: 2073-4360

Anticancer Potential of Antimicrobial Peptides: Focus on Buforins

Ana Maria Tolos (Vasii), Cristian Moisa, Mihaela Dochia, Carmen Popa, Lucian Copolovici, Dana Maria Copolovici
  • Polymers and Plastics
  • General Chemistry

In seeking alternative cancer treatments, antimicrobial peptides (AMPs), sourced from various life forms, emerge as promising contenders. These endogenous peptides, also known as host defense peptides (HDPs), play crucial roles in immune defenses against infections and exhibit potential in combating cancers. With their diverse defensive functions, plant-derived AMPs, such as thionins and defensins, offer a rich repertoire of antimicrobial properties. Insects, amphibians, and animals contribute unique AMPs like cecropins, temporins, and cathelicidins, showcasing broad-spectrum activities against bacteria, fungi, and viruses. Understanding these natural peptides holds significant potential for developing effective and targeted therapies against cancer and infectious diseases. Antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) exhibit diverse structural characteristics, including α-helical, β-sheet, extended, and loop peptides. Environmental conditions influence their structure, connecting to changes in cell membrane hydrophobicity. AMPs’ actions involve direct killing and immune regulation, with additional activities like membrane depolarization. In this review, we focus on antimicrobial peptides that act as anticancer agents and AMPs that exhibit mechanisms akin to antimicrobial activity. Buforin AMPs, particularly Buforin I and II, derived from histone H2A, demonstrate antibacterial and anticancer potential. Buforin IIb and its analogs show promise, with selectivity for cancer cells. Despite the challenges, AMPs offer a unique approach to combat microbial resistance and potential cancer treatment. In various cancer types, including HeLa, breast, lung, ovarian, prostate, and liver cancers, buforins demonstrate inhibitory effects and apoptosis induction. To address limitations like stability and bioavailability, researchers explore buforin-containing bioconjugates, covalently linked with nanoparticles or liposomes. Bioconjugation enhances specificity-controlled release and combats drug resistance, presenting a promising avenue for targeted cancer treatment. Clinical translation awaits further evaluation through in vivo studies and future clinical trials.

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