Blood-brain barrier transport of short proline-rich antimicrobial peptides

Infections by antibiotic-resistant bacteria are becoming a great risk for human health, leading to an urgent need for new efficient antibacterial therapies. The short, proline-rich antimicrobial peptides from insects gained a lot of interest as a potential antibacterial treatment, having a low toxicity profile and being mainly active against Gram-negative bacteria. To know whether these antimicrobial peptides can be used for the treatment of cerebral infections, the blood-brain barrier transport characteristics of these peptides were investigated. This study describes the results of the in vivo blood-brain barrier experiments in mice, as well as the in vitro metabolic stability in mouse plasma and brain ofapidaecin Api137, oncocin, drosocin and drosocin Pro5Hyp. The four investigated peptides showed a significant influx into the brain with a K(in) ranging between 0.37 and 0.86 µL/g x min and brain distribution volumes of 19.6 to 25.8 µL/g. Only for drosocin, a significant efflux was determined, with a k(out) of 0.22 min(-1). After entering the brain, oncocin was for approximately 80% trapped in the endothelial cells, while the other peptides reached the brain parenchyma for about 70%. All peptides were stable in plasma and brain during the experiments, with estimated metabolic half-lives ranging between 47 min and 637 min. We conclude that the investigated short, proline-rich antimicrobial peptides show an influx into the brain, which make them a promising antibacterial treatment of cerebral infections.(