DOI: 10.3390/antibiotics12091398 ISSN:

LL37-Derived Fragments Improve the Antibacterial Potential of Penicillin G and Ampicillin against Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus

Wenxu Han, Terri A. Camesano
  • Pharmacology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases
  • Microbiology (medical)
  • General Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutics
  • Biochemistry
  • Microbiology

Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infections are a severe threat to public health. Antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) are novel and potential antimicrobials with specific antibacterial mechanisms. Our aim was to study the potential of LL37, FK16, and FK13 to enhance the anti-MRSA activity of antibiotics in vitro, particularly penicillin G and ampicillin. Our results showed that FK16 and FK13 have more synergistic inhibitory effects to MRSA strains when combined with penicillin G and ampicillin. In addition, AMPs exhibited strong membrane permeabilizing properties, and membrane permeabilizing effects can provide a possible explanation for the improved antibacterial effects of antibiotics, since permeabilizing AMPs have the potential to increase the access of antibiotics. To further study the electrostatic interactions among cationic AMPs with negatively charged bacteria, we measured the zeta potentials of three MRSA strains and also neutralized three MRSA strains with the addition of cationic AMPs. Further, we demonstrated the connection between membrane permeabilization and zeta potential neutralization. Finally, we treated MRSA strains with AMPs and characterized the MICs of penicillin G and ampicillin. FK16 was the most promising AMP among the three AMPs, since exposure to FK16 decreased the MICs of both penicillin G and ampicillin for all MRSA strains and also demonstrated more synergistic combinations when combined with antibiotics. AMP exposure and subsequent membrane permeabilization provide a possible pathway to re-sensitize drug-resistant bacteria to traditional antibiotics. Re-sensitization may help preserve the effectiveness of traditional antibiotics, thus providing a potential new strategy for fighting MRSA infections.

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