Antimicrobial Peptide against Mycobacterium Tuberculosis That Activates Autophagy Is an Effective Treatment for Tuberculosis

November 9, 2020

Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MTB) is the principal cause of human tuberculosis (TB), which is a serious health problem worldwide. The development of innovative therapeutic modalities to treat TB is mainly due to the emergence of multi drug resistant (MDR) TB. Autophagy is a cell-host defense process. Previous studies have reported that autophagy-activating agents eliminate intracellular MDR MTB. Thus, combining a direct antibiotic activity against circulating bacteria with autophagy activation to eliminate bacteria residing inside cells could treat MDR TB. We show that the synthetic peptide, IP-1 (KFLNRFWHWLQLKPGQPMY), induced autophagy in HEK293T cells and macrophages at a low dose (10 μM), while increasing the dose (50 μM) induced cell death; IP-1 induced the secretion of TNFα in macrophages and killed Mtb at a dose where macrophages are not killed by IP-1. Moreover, IP-1 showed significant therapeutic activity in a mice model of progressive pulmonary TB. In terms of the mechanism of action, IP-1 sequesters ATP in vitro and inside living cells. Thus, IP-1 is the first antimicrobial peptide that eliminates MDR MTB infection by combining four activities: reducing ATP levels, bactericidal activity, autophagy activation, and TNFα secretion.