Antimicrobial peptides as potential new antifungals

Frank Michael C. Müller, C. A. Lyman, T. J. Walsh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Ribosomally synthesized natural antimicrobial peptides (AP) and their synthetic derivatives are small, cationic, amphipathic molecules of 12-50 amino acids with unusually broad activity spectra. These peptides kill microorganisms by a common mechanism, which involves binding to the lipid bilayer of biological membranes, forming pores, and ultimately followed by cell lysis. Several AP from mammals, amphibians, insects, plants and their synthetic derivatives demonstrate promising in vitro activity against various pathogenic fungi including azole-resistant Candida albicans strains. In addition to their antimicrobial activity, some AP such as lactoferrin, interact with a variety of host cells and can increase the activity of natural killer and lymphokine activated killer cells. Pretreatment of polymorphonuclear neutrophil leukocytes (PMN) or monocytes with these AP also may upregulate superoxide release. AP as potential new antifungal agents offer some advantages, such as rapid killing of pathogenic fungi and the difficulty to raise mutants resistant to these peptides. AP are limited by their nonselective toxicity, stability, immunogenicity and their costs of production. Potential clinical applications of AP in the future have to be further explored in preclinical and clinical studies to assess their impact as a new class of antifungals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)77-82
Number of pages6
JournalMycoses, Supplement
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1999
Externally publishedYes


  • Antifungal activity
  • Antimicrobial activity
  • Host defense
  • Peptides
  • Synthetic derivatives

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Immunology


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