Nav: Home

Antimicrobial "Bug Spray" Found In Human Lung Cells

June 18, 1997

Hopkins scientists studying lung damage from cystic fibrosis (CF) have found a natural "bug spray" that lung cells "squirt" on attacking bacteria.

The "spray", an antimicrobial compound researchers call hTAP(human tracheal antimicrobial peptide), appears to be disabled in CF patients, increasing their vulnerability to lung infections. If researchers can mass-produce hTAP or similar compounds, they may help fight lung infections in both CF patients and in the general population, where infectious lung diseases like tuberculosis kill more than 7 million people every year.

"People have always thought that the lungs only attacked infections via the classical immune system--B cells, T cells and other immune cells," says Pete Pedersen, Ph.D., Hopkins professor of biological chemistry. "But lung cells apparently have their own first-line defense mechanism--they shoot out one or more peptides that kill bacteria."

After the first such compounds were identified in cells from frog skin and cow throats by researchers at other institutions Young Hee Ko, a research associate in Pedersen's lab, suspected that CF jammed the "nozzle" on a similar bug spray.

"That nozzle is a channel on the surface of lung cells called CFTR, and we already knew that CF disrupts it," says Ko.

In a study funded by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases and the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, Ko exposed two batches of lung cells, one from a normal patient and one from a CF patient, to Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a bacterium that causes repeated lung infections in CF patients.

The bacteria infected many CF cells while making little progress in the normal cells. Ko then searched for an antimicrobial compound similar to the one found in cow throats, and found hTAP.

Pedersen speculates that cells in other areas at high risk for infection, such as the eyes, the gut or the mouth, may secrete similar germ-fighting compounds.

Their results were published recently in the journal FEBS (Federation of European Biochemical Societies) Letters. The other study author was Michael Delannoy, an electron microscopist.

###




Johns Hopkins Medicine

Related Cystic Fibrosis Articles:

In cystic fibrosis, lungs feed deadly bacteria
A steady supply of its favorite food helps a deadly bacterium thrive in the lungs of people with cystic fibrosis, according to a new study by Columbia researchers.
Cibio knocks out cystic fibrosis
The fight against cystic fibrosis continues, targeting in particular some of the mutations that cause it.
Hypertonic saline may help babies with cystic fibrosis breathe better
Babies with cystic fibrosis may breathe better by inhaling hypertonic saline, according to a randomized controlled trial conducted in Germany and published in the American Thoracic Society's American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.
Understanding antibiotic resistance in patients with cystic fibrosis
Patients with cystic fibrosis who carried antibiotic-resistant bacteria in their lungs had significantly lower microbial diversity and more aggressive disease, according to a small study published in Heliyon.
Research shows that cystic fibrosis impacts growth in the womb
New research, published in Thorax, funded by the Cystic Fibrosis Trust has shown that babies with cystic fibrosis (CF) are born weighing less than babies without the condition, even allowing that they are more likely to be born prematurely.
More Cystic Fibrosis News and Cystic Fibrosis Current Events

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Rethinking Anger
Anger is universal and complex: it can be quiet, festering, justified, vengeful, and destructive. This hour, TED speakers explore the many sides of anger, why we need it, and who's allowed to feel it. Guests include psychologists Ryan Martin and Russell Kolts, writer Soraya Chemaly, former talk radio host Lisa Fritsch, and business professor Dan Moshavi.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#537 Science Journalism, Hold the Hype
Everyone's seen a piece of science getting over-exaggerated in the media. Most people would be quick to blame journalists and big media for getting in wrong. In many cases, you'd be right. But there's other sources of hype in science journalism. and one of them can be found in the humble, and little-known press release. We're talking with Chris Chambers about doing science about science journalism, and where the hype creeps in. Related links: The association between exaggeration in health related science news and academic press releases: retrospective observational study Claims of causality in health news: a randomised trial This...