Targeted Amino Acid Substitution Overcomes Scale-Up Challenges with the Human C5a-Derived Decapeptide Immunostimulant EP67.
ABSTRACT: EP67 is a second-generation, human C5a-derived decapeptide agonist of C5a receptor 1 (C5aR1/CD88) that selectively activates mononuclear phagocytes over neutrophils to potentiate protective innate and adaptive immune responses while potentially minimizing neutrophil-mediated toxicity. Pro7 and N-methyl-Leu8 (Me-Leu8) amino acid residues within EP67 likely induce backbone structural changes that increase potency and selective activation of mononuclear phagocytes over neutrophils versus first-generation EP54. The low coupling efficiency between Pro7 and Me-Leu8 and challenging purification by HPLC, however, greatly increase scale-up costs of EP67 for clinical use. Thus, the goal of this study was to determine whether replacing Pro7 and/or Me-Leu8 with large-scale amenable amino acid residues predicted to induce similar structural changes (cyclohexylalanine7 and/or leucine8) sufficiently preserves EP67 activity in primary human mononuclear phagocytes and neutrophils. We found that EP67 analogues had similar potency, efficacy, and selective activation of mononuclear phagocytes over neutrophils. Thus, replacing Pro7 and/or Me-Leu8 with large-scale amenable amino acid residues predicted to induce similar structural changes is a suitable strategy to overcome scale-up challenges with EP67.
Project description:The anaphylatoxin C5a is an especially potent mediator of both local and systemic inflammation. However, C5a also plays an essential role in mucosal host defense against bacterial, viral, and fungal infection. We have developed a response-selective agonist of human C5a, termed EP67, which retains the immunoenhancing activity of C5a at the expense of its inflammatory, anaphylagenic properties. EP67 insufflation results in the rapid induction of pulmonary cytokines and chemokines. This is followed by an influx of innate immune effector cells, including neutrophils, NK cells, and dendritic cells. EP67 exhibits both prophylactic and therapeutic protection when tested in a murine model of influenza A infection. Mice treated with EP67 within a twenty-four hour window of non-lethal infection were significantly protected from influenza-induced weight loss. Furthermore, EP67 delivered twenty-four hours after lethal infection completely blocked influenza-induced mortality (0% vs. 100% survival). Since protection based on innate immune induction is not restricted to any specific pathogen, EP67 may well prove equally efficacious against a wide variety of possible viral, bacterial, and fungal pathogens. Such a strategy could be used to stop the worldwide spread of emergent respiratory diseases, including but not limited to novel strains of influenza.
Project description:According to the amyloid hypothesis of Alzheimer's disease (AD) the deposition of prefibrillar and fibrillar A? peptide sets off the pathogenic cascades of neuroinflammation and neurodegeneration that lead to synaptic and neuronal loss resulting in cognitive decline. Various approaches to reduce amyloid load by reducing production of the A? peptide or enhancing amyloid clearance by primary or secondary immunization have not proven successful in clinical trials. Interfering with the normal function of secretases and suboptimal timing of A? peptide removal have been put forward as possible explanations. Complement, an innate component of the immune system, has been found to modulate disease pathology and in particular neuronal loss in the AD mouse model but its mechanism of action is complex. C1Q has been shown to facilitate phagocytosis of A? peptide but its Ablation attenuates neuroinflammation. Experiments in AD mouse models show that inhibition of complement component C5a reduces amyloid deposition and alleviates neuroinflammation. Phagocytes including microglia, monocytes and neutrophils carry C5a receptors. Here, a widely used mouse model of AD, 5XFAD, was intermittently treated with the oral C5a receptor agonist EP67 and several neuronal and neuroinflammatory markers as well as memory function were assessed. EP67 treatment enhanced phagocytosis, resulting in a significant reduction of both fibrillar and non-fibrillar A?, reduced astrocytosis and preserved synaptic and neuronal markers as well as memory function. Timely and phasic recruitment of the innate immune system offers a new therapeutic avenue of treating pre-symptomatic Alzheimer disease.
Project description:Encapsulation of protein vaccines in biodegradable nanoparticles (NP) increases T-cell expansion after mucosal immunization but requires incorporating a suitable immunostimulant to increase long-lived memory T-cells. EP67 is a clinically viable, host-derived peptide agonist of the C5a receptor that selectively activates antigen presenting cells over neutrophils. We previously found that encapsulating EP67-conjugated CTL peptide vaccines in NP increases long-lived memory subsets of CTL after respiratory immunization. Thus, we hypothesized that alternatively conjugating EP67 to the NP surface can increase long-lived mucosal and systemic memory T-cells generated by encapsulated protein vaccines. We found that respiratory immunization of naïve female C57BL/6 mice with LPS-free ovalbumin (OVA) encapsulated in PLGA 50:50 NP (?380?nm diameter) surface-conjugated with ?0.1?wt% EP67 through 2?kDa PEG linkers (i) increased T-cell expansion and long-lived memory subsets of OVA323-339-specific CD4+ and OVA257-264-specific CD8a+ T-cells in the lungs (CD44HI/CD127/KLRG1) and spleen (CD44HI/CD127/KLRG1/CD62L) and (ii) decreased peak CFU of OVA-expressing L. monocytogenes (LM-OVA) in the lungs, liver, and spleen after respiratory challenge vs. encapsulation in unmodified NP. Thus, conjugating EP67 to the NP surface is one approach to increase the generation of long-lived mucosal and systemic memory T-cells by encapsulated protein vaccines after respiratory immunization.
Project description:Coccidioides is a fungal pathogen and causative agent of a human respiratory disease against which no clinical vaccine exists. In this study we evaluated a novel vaccine adjuvant referred to as EP67, which is a peptide agonist of the biologically active C-terminal region of human complement component C5a. The EP67 peptide was conjugated to live spores of an attenuated vaccine strain (?T) of Coccidioides posadasii. The non-conjugated ?T vaccine provided partial protection to BALB/c mice against coccidioidomycosis. In this report we compared the protective efficacy of the ?T-EP67 conjugate to the ?T vaccine in BALB/c mice. Animals immunized subcutaneously with the ?T-EP67 vaccine showed significant increase in survival and decrease in fungal burden over 75 days postchallenge. Increased pulmonary infiltration of dendritic cells and macrophages was observed on day 7 postchallenge but marked decrease in neutrophil numbers had occurred by 11 days. The reduced influx of neutrophils may have contributed to the observed reduction of inflammatory pathology. Mice immunized with the ?T-EP67 vaccine also revealed enhanced expression of MHC II molecules on the surface of antigen presenting cells, and in vitro recall assays of immune splenocytes showed elevated Th1- and Th17-type cytokine production. The latter correlated with a marked increase in lung infiltration of IFN-?- and IL-17-producing CD4(+) T cells. Elevated expression of T-bet and RORc transcription factors in ?T-EP67-vaccinated mice indicated the promotion of Th1 and Th17 cell differentiation. Higher titers of Coccidioides antigen-specific IgG1 and IgG2a were detected in mice immunized with the EP67-conjugated versus the non-conjugated vaccine. These combined results suggest that the EP67 adjuvant enhances protective efficacy of the live vaccine by augmentation of T-cell immunity, especially through Th1- and Th17-mediated responses to Coccidioides infection.
Project description:Streptococcus agalactiae (group B Streptococcus [GBS]) is a Gram-positive bacterium that colonizes the cervicovaginal tract in approximately 25% of healthy women. Although colonization is asymptomatic, GBS can be vertically transmitted to newborns peripartum, causing severe disease such as pneumonia and meningitis. Current prophylaxis, consisting of late gestation screening and intrapartum antibiotics, has failed to completely prevent transmission, and GBS remains a leading cause of neonatal sepsis and meningitis in the United States. Lack of an effective vaccine and emerging antibiotic resistance necessitate exploring novel therapeutic strategies. We have employed a host-directed immunomodulatory therapy using a novel peptide, known as EP67, derived from the C-terminal region of human complement component C5a. Previously, we have demonstrated in vivo that EP67 engagement of the C5a receptor (CD88) effectively limits staphylococcal infection by promoting cytokine release and neutrophil infiltration. Here, using our established mouse model of GBS vaginal colonization, we observed that EP67 treatment results in rapid clearance of GBS from the murine vagina. However, this was not dependent on functional neutrophil recruitment or CD88 signaling, as EP67 treatment reduced the vaginal bacterial load in mice lacking CD88 or the major neutrophil receptor CXCr2. Interestingly, we found that EP67 inhibits GBS growth in vitro and in vivo and that antibacterial activity was specific to Streptococcus species. Our work establishes that EP67-mediated clearance of GBS is likely due to direct bacterial killing rather than to enhanced immune stimulation. We conclude that EP67 may have potential as a therapeutic to control GBS vaginal colonization.
Project description:The complement anaphylatoxin C5a has a pathogenetic role in endotoxin-induced lung inflammatory injury by regulating phagocytic cell migration and activation. Endotoxin and C5a activate the enzyme sphingosine kinase (Sphk) 1 to generate the signaling lipid sphingosine-1-phosphate (S1P), a critical regulator of phagocyte function. We assessed the function of Sphk1 and S1P in experimental lung inflammatory injury and determined their roles in anaphylatoxin receptor signaling and on the expression of the two C5a receptors, C5aR (CD88) and C5L2, on phagocytes. We report that Sphk1 gene deficient (Sphk1(-/-)) mice had augmented lung inflammatory response to endotoxin compared to wild type mice. Sphk1 was required for C5a-mediated reduction in cytokine and chemokine production by macrophages. Moreover, neutrophils from Sphk1(-/-) mice failed to upregulate the anaphylatoxin receptor C5L2 in response to LPS. Exogenous S1P restored C5L2 cell surface expression of Sphk1(-/-) mouse neutrophils to wild type levels but had no effect on cell surface expression of the other anaphylatoxin receptor, CD88. These results provide the first genetic evidence of the crucial role of Sphk1 in regulating the balance between expression of CD88 and C5L2 in phagocytes. S1P-mediated up-regulation of C5L2 is a novel therapeutic target for mitigating endotoxin-induced lung inflammatory injury.
Project description:Recruitment of phagocytes to inflammatory sites involves the coordinated action of several chemoattractants, including the anaphylatoxin C5a. While the C5a receptor (C5aR) has been well characterized in humans and rodents, little is known about the bovine C5aR. Here, we report cloning of bovine C5R1, the gene encoding bovine C5aR. We also analyzed genomic sequence upstream of the C5R1 translation start site. Although the bovine C5aR amino acid sequence was well conserved among species, significant differences in conserved features were found, including major differences in the N terminus, intracellular loop 3, and transmembrane domain VII. Analysis of C5aR expression by flow cytometry and confocal microscopy demonstrated high levels of C5aR on all bovine neutrophils and a subset of bovine monocytes. C5aR was not expressed on resting or activated bovine lymphocytes, although C5aR message was present in these cells. C5aR was also expressed on a small subset of bovine mammary epithelial cells. Pharmacological analysis of bovine C5aR-mediated responses showed that bovine C5a and C5adesArg both induced dose-dependent calcium fluxes and chemotaxis in bovine neutrophils, with similar efficacy for both agonists. Treatment of bovine neutrophils with C5a or C5adesArg resulted in homologous desensitization of bovine C5aR and cross-desensitization to interleukin 8 (IL-8) and platelet-activating factor (PAF); whereas, treatment with IL-8 or PAF did not cross-desensitize the cells to C5a or C5adesArg. Overall, these studies provide important information regarding distinct structural and functional features that may contribute to the unique pharmacological properties of bovine C5aR.
Project description:We previously determined that burst size necrosis is the chief mode of mononuclear cell death in the lungs of mice with tuberculosis. The present study explored the link between infection-induced necrosis of mononuclear phagocytes and neutrophil accumulation in the lungs of mice challenged with one of four Mycobacterium tuberculosis strains of increasing virulence (Rv?phoPR mutant, H37Ra, H37Rv and Erdman). At all time points studied, Erdman produced the highest bacterial load and the highest proportion and number of M. tuberculosis-infected neutrophils. These parameters, and the proportion of TUNEL-positive cells, tracked with virulence across all strains tested. Differences in neutrophil infection were not reflected by levels of chemoattractant cytokines in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid, while interferon-? (reported to suppress neutrophil trafficking to the lung in tuberculosis) was highest in Erdman-infected mice. Treating Erdman-infected mice with ethambutol decreased the proportion of mononuclear phagocytes with high bacterial burden and the ratio of infected neutrophils to infected mononuclear cells in a dose-dependent manner. We propose that faster replicating M. tuberculosis strains cause more necrosis which in turn promotes neutrophil recruitment. Neutrophils infected with M. tuberculosis constitute a biomarker for poorly controlled bacterial replication, infection-induced mononuclear cell death, and increased severity of immune pathology in tuberculosis.
Project description:Biofilm infections often lead to significant morbidity due to their chronicity and recalcitrance to antibiotics. We have demonstrated that methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) biofilms can evade macrophage (M?) antibacterial effector mechanisms by skewing M?s toward an alternatively activated M2 phenotype. To overcome this immune evasion, we have used two complementary approaches. In the first, a proinflammatory milieu was elicited by local administration of classically activated M1 M?s and in the second by treatment with the C5a receptor (CD88) agonist EP67, which invokes M? proinflammatory activity. Early administration of M1-activated M?s or EP67 significantly attenuated biofilm formation in a mouse model of MRSA catheter-associated infection. Several proinflammatory mediators were significantly elevated in biofilm-infected tissues from M?- and EP67-treated animals, revealing effective reprogramming of the biofilm environment to a proinflammatory milieu. A requirement for M? proinflammatory activity was demonstrated by the fact that transfer of MyD88-deficient M?s had minimal impact on biofilm growth. Likewise, neutrophil administration had no effect on biofilm formation. Treatment of established biofilm infections with M1-activated M?s also significantly reduced catheter-associated biofilm burdens compared with antibiotic treatment. Collectively, these results demonstrate that targeting M? proinflammatory activity can overcome the local immune inhibitory environment created during biofilm infections and represents a novel therapeutic strategy.
Project description:A large body of evidence supports a central role for complement activation in the pathobiology of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), including plasma complement component 5a (C5a). Interestingly, C5a is a chemotactic agent for monocytes, a cell type also shown to contribute to AMD. However, the role monocytes play in the pathogenesis of "dry" AMD and the pharmacologic potential of targeting C5a to regulate these cells are unclear. We addressed these questions via C5a blockade in a unique model of early/intermediate dry AMD and large panel flow cytometry to immunophenotype monocytic involvement.Heterozygous complement factor H (Cfh+/-) mice aged to 90 weeks were fed a high-fat, cholesterol-enriched diet (Cfh+/-?HFC) for 8 weeks and were given weekly intraperitoneal injections of 30 mg/kg anti-C5a (4C9, Pfizer). Flow cytometry, retinal pigmented epithelium (RPE) flat mounts, and electroretinograms were used to characterize anti-C5a treatment.Aged Cfh+/- mice developed RPE damage, sub-RPE basal laminar deposits, and attenuation of visual function and immune cell recruitment to the choroid that was accompanied by expression of inflammatory and extracellular matrix remodeling genes following 8 weeks of HFC diet. Concomitant systemic administration of an anti-C5a antibody successfully inhibited local recruitment of mononuclear phagocytes to the choroid-RPE interface but did not ameliorate these AMD-like pathologies in this mouse model.These results show that immunotherapy targeting C5a is not sufficient to block the development of the AMD-like pathologies observed in Cfh+/-?HFC mice and suggest that other complement components or molecules/mechanisms may be driving "early" and "intermediate" AMD pathologies.