Synthetic mucus biomaterials for antimicrobial peptide delivery

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Yang, S, Duncan, GA. Synthetic mucus biomaterials for antimicrobial peptide delivery. J Biomed Mater Res. 2023; 111(10): 1616-1626.


Despite the promise of antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) as treatments for antibiotic-resistant infections, their therapeutic efficacy is limited due to the rapid degradation and low bioavailability of AMPs. To address this, we have developed and characterized a synthetic mucus (SM) biomaterial capable of delivering LL37 AMPs and enhancing their therapeutic effect. LL37 is an AMP that exhibits a wide range of antimicrobial activity against bacteria, including Pseudomonas aeruginosa. LL37 loaded SM hydrogels demonstrated controlled release with 70%–95% of loaded LL37 over 8 h due to charge-mediated interactions between mucins and LL37 AMPs. Compared to treatment with LL37 alone where antimicrobial activity was reduced after 3 h, LL37-SM hydrogels inhibited P. aeruginosa (PAO1) growth over 12 h. LL37-SM hydrogel treatment reduced PAO1 viability over 6 h whereas a rebound in bacterial growth was observed when treated with LL37 only. These data demonstrate LL37-SM hydrogels enhance antimicrobial activity by preserving LL37 AMP activity and bioavailability. Overall, this work establishes SM biomaterials as a platform for enhanced AMP delivery for antimicrobial applications.