Peptide/β-Peptoid Hybrids with Activity against Vancomycin-Resistant Enterococci: Influence of Hydrophobicity and Structural Features on Antibacterial and Hemolytic Properties

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Infections with enterococci are challenging to treat due to intrinsic resistance to several antibiotics. Especially vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus faecium and Enterococcus faecalis are of considerable concern with a limited number of efficacious therapeutics available. From an initial screening of 20 peptidomimetics, 11 stable peptide/β-peptoid hybrids were found to have antibacterial activity against eight E. faecium and E. faecalis isolates. Microbiological characterization comprised determination of minimal inhibitory concentrations (MICs), probing of synergy with antibiotics in a checkerboard assay, time-kill studies, as well as assessment of membrane integrity. E. faecium isolates proved more susceptible than E. faecalis isolates, and no differences in susceptibility between the vancomycin-resistant (VRE) and -susceptible E. faecium isolates were observed. A test of three peptidomimetics (Ac-[hArg-βNsce]6-NH2, Ac-[hArg-βNsce-Lys-βNspe]3-NH2 and Oct-[Lys-βNspe]6-NH2) in combination with conventional antibiotics (vancomycin, gentamicin, ciprofloxacin, linezolid, rifampicin or azithromycin) revealed no synergy. The same three potent analogues were found to have a bactericidal effect with a membrane-disruptive mode of action. Peptidomimetics Ac-[hArg-βNsce-Lys-βNspe]3-NH2 and Oct-[Lys-βNspe]6-NH2 with low MIC values (in the ranges 2-8 µg/mL and 4-16 µg/mL against E. faecium and E. faecalis, respectively) and displaying weak cytotoxic properties (i.e., <10% hemolysis at a ~100-fold higher concentration than their MICs; IC50 values of 73 and 41 µg/mL, respectively, against HepG2 cells) were identified as promising starting points for further optimization studies.

Original languageEnglish
Article number5617
JournalInternational Journal of Molecular Sciences
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 2021

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