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The anti-inflammatory effect of the synthetic antimicrobial peptide 19-2.5 in a murine sepsis model: a prospective randomized study

Tobias Schuerholz1*, Sabine Doemming1, Mathias Hornef2, Lukas Martin1, Tim-Philipp Simon1, Lena Heinbockel3, Klaus Brandenburg3 and Gernot Marx1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Intensive Care and Intermediate Care, University Hospital Aachen, RWTH Aachen University, Pauwelsstr. 30, Aachen, 52074, Germany

2 Department of Microbiology, Hannover Medical School, Carl-Neuberg-Str. 1, Hannover, 30625, Germany

3 Division of Biophysics, Forschungszentrum Borstel, Parkallee 10, Borstel, 23845, Germany

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Critical Care 2013, 17:R3  doi:10.1186/cc11920

Published: 9 January 2013



Increasing rates of multi-resistant bacteria are a major problem in the treatment of critically ill patients. Furthermore, conventional antibiotics lead to the release of bacterial derived membrane parts initiating pro-inflammatory cascades with potential harm to the patient. Antimicrobial peptides (AMP) may kill bacteria without releasing pro-inflammatory factors. Thus, we compared three newly developed synthetic anti-lipopolysaccharide peptides (SALPs) with a broader range of efficacy to suppress cytokine release in plasma and CD14 mRNA expression in organ tissue in a murine, polymicrobial sepsis model.


A randomized, experimental trial was conducted in an animal research facility. Male NMRI mice (n = 90; 8- to 12-weeks old) were randomized to the following six groups: (i) sham operation and parenteral vehicle (NaCl 0.9%) administration (sham); (ii) cecal ligation and puncture (CLP) and vehicle infusion (sepsis-control), (iii) CLP and polymyxin B infusion (polyB), or (iv to vi) CLP and infusion of three different synthetic antimicrobial peptides Peptide 19-2.5 (Pep2.5), Peptide 19-4 (Pep4) or Peptide 19-8 (Pep8). All animals underwent arterial and venous catheterization for hemodynamic monitoring 48 hours prior to CLP or sham-operation. Physical appearance and behavior (activity), plasma cytokine levels, and CD14 mRNA expression in heart, lung, liver, spleen and kidney tissue were determined 24 hours after CLP or sham operation.


Only Pep2.5 significantly enhanced the activity after CLP, whereas none of the therapeutic regimens elevated the mean arterial pressure or heart rate. The strongly elevated IL-6, IL-10 and monocyte chemoattractant protein serum levels in septic animals were significantly reduced after Pep2.5 administration (P < 0.001, P < 0.001, and P < 0.001, respectively). Similarly, Pep2.5 significantly reduced the sepsis-induced CD14 mRNA expression in heart (P = 0.003), lung (P = 0.008), and spleen tissue (P = 0.009) but not in kidney and liver.


Structurally variable SALPs exhibit major differences in their anti-inflammatory effect in vivo. Continuous parenteral administration of Pep2.5 is able to reduce sepsis-induced cytokine release and tissue inflammation.