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Bacterial resistance is a growing global concern necessitating the discovery and development of antibiotics effective against the drug-resistant bacterial strain. Previously, we reported a cyclic antimicrobial peptide [R4W4] containing arginine (R) and tryptophan (W) with a MIC of 2.67 µg/mL (1.95 µM) against methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). Herein, we investigated the cyclic peptides [R4W4] or linear (R4W4) and their conjugates (covalent or noncovalent) with levofloxacin (Levo) with the intent to improve their potency to target drug-resistant bacteria. The physical mixture of the Levo with the cyclic [R4W4] proved to be significantly effective against all strains of bacteria used in the study as compared to covalent conjugation. Furthermore, the checkerboard assay revealed the significant synergistic effect of the peptides against all studied strains except for the wild type S. aureus, in which the partial synergy was observed. The hemolysis assay revealed less cytotoxicity of the physical mixture of the Levo with [R4W4] (22%) as compared to [R4W4] alone (80%). The linear peptide (R4W4) and the cyclic [R4W4] demonstrated ~90% and 85% cell viability at 300 µg/mL in the triple-negative breast cancer cells (MDA-MB-231) and the normal kidney cells (HEK-293), respectively. Similar trends were also observed in the cell viability of Levo-conjugates on these cell lines. Furthermore, the time-kill kinetic study of the combination of [R4W4] and Levo demonstrate rapid killing action at 4 h for MRSA (ATCC BAA-1556) and 12 h for E. coli (ATCC BAA-2452), P. aeruginosa (ATCC BAA-1744), and K. pneumoniae (ATCC BAA-1705). These results provide the effectiveness of a combination of Levo with cyclic [R4W4] peptide, which may provide an opportunity to solve the intriguing puzzle of treating bacterial resistance.


This article was originally published in Antibiotics, volume 11, in 2022. (564 kB)
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