Phage lytic enzymes as therapy for antibiotic-resistant Streptococcus pneumoniae infection in a murine sepsis model

J Antimicrob Chemother. 2003 Dec;52(6):967-73. doi: 10.1093/jac/dkg485. Epub 2003 Nov 12.


Objectives: Phage-coded lysins, i.e. murein hydrolases, are enzymes that destroy the cell wall of bacteria. A rapid killing of Streptococcus pneumoniae in the nasopharynx of mice has been described recently using a phage-coded murein hydrolase (enzybiotic). The in vivo effects of a dose-ranging treatment, using either of the phage-coded lytic enzymes Cpl-1 lysozyme or the Pal amidase, have been investigated here in a murine sepsis model.

Methods: Purified Pal amidase and/or Cpl-1 lysozyme were used alone or in combination. These enzymes were injected intraperitoneally at different times after challenge with 5 x 10(7) cfu of a type 6B, antibiotic-resistant S. pneumoniae clinical isolate.

Results: Animals challenged with 5 x 10(7) cfu of this strain alone died within 72 h, whereas a single intraperitoneal injection of Cpl-1 or Pal (200 microg; 1100 U) administered 1 h after the bacterial challenge was sufficient to effectively protect the mice, according to unpaired t-test (P<0.0001). Bacteraemia in unprotected mice reached colony counts >10(7) cfu/mL, whereas the mean colony count in lysin-protected animals was <10(6) cfu/mL over time and ultimately became undetectable. Interestingly, a synergic effect in vivo was observed with the combined use of 2.5 microg each of Cpl-1 and Pal.

Conclusions: Our findings suggest strongly that phage lysins protect animals from bacteraemia and death. Moreover, the simultaneous attack of the pneumococcal peptidoglycan by a lysozyme and an amidase leads to a remarkable effect through enhanced destruction of the bacterial cell wall. The benefits of therapy with enzybiotics against pneumococcus reported here might warrant the examination of alternative strategies for the treatment of diseases caused by clinically relevant pathogens.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amidohydrolases / immunology
  • Amidohydrolases / isolation & purification
  • Amidohydrolases / therapeutic use*
  • Animals
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Antibodies, Bacterial / biosynthesis
  • Bacteremia / drug therapy
  • Bacteremia / microbiology
  • Bacteriophages / enzymology*
  • Blotting, Western
  • Cell Wall / drug effects
  • Chromatography, DEAE-Cellulose
  • Drug Resistance, Bacterial
  • Drug Synergism
  • Female
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Muramidase / immunology
  • Muramidase / isolation & purification
  • Muramidase / therapeutic use*
  • Pneumococcal Infections / drug therapy*
  • Pneumococcal Infections / microbiology


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Antibodies, Bacterial
  • Muramidase
  • Amidohydrolases
  • N-palmitoylethanolamine-selective acid amidase