Multiple sclerosis is characterized by inflammatory lesions dispersed throughout the central nervous system (CNS) leading to severe neurological handicap. Demyelination, axonal damage, and blood brain barrier alterations are hallmarks of this pathology, whose precise processes are not fully understood. In the experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE) rat model that mimics many features of human multiple sclerosis, the phage display strategy was applied to select peptide ligands targeting inflammatory sites in CNS. Due to the large diversity of sequences after phage display selection, a bioinformatics procedure called "PepTeam" designed to identify peptides mimicking naturally occurring proteins was used, with the goal to predict peptides that were not background noise. We identified a circular peptide CLSTASNSC called "Ph48" as an efficient binder of inflammatory regions of EAE CNS sections including small inflammatory lesions of both white and gray matter. Tested on human brain endothelial cells hCMEC/D3, Ph48 was able to bind efficiently when these cells were activated with IL1β to mimic inflammatory conditions. The peptide is therefore a candidate for further analyses of the molecular alterations in inflammatory lesions.
Keywords: EAE; blood brain barrier; central nervous system; hCMEC/D3; marker of neuroinflammation; phage display.