Peptide-Loaded Cubosomes Functioning as an Antimicrobial Unit against Escherichia coli

ACS Appl Mater Interfaces. 2019 Jun 19;11(24):21314-21322. doi: 10.1021/acsami.9b01826. Epub 2019 Jun 4.


Dispersions of cubic liquid crystalline phases, also known as cubosomes, have shown great promise as delivery vehicles for a wide range of medicines. Due to their ordered structure, comprising alternating hydrophilic and hydrophobic domains, cubosomes possess unique delivery properties and compatibility with both water-soluble and -insoluble drugs. However, the drug delivery mechanism and cubosome interaction with human cells and bacteria are still poorly understood. Herein, we reveal how cubosomes loaded with the human cathelicidin antimicrobial peptide LL-37, a system with high bacteria-killing effect, interact with the bacterial membrane and provide new insights into the eradication mechanism. Combining the advanced experimental techniques neutron reflectivity and quartz crystal microbalance with dissipation monitoring, a mechanistic drug delivery model for LL-37-loaded cubosomes on bacterial mimicking bilayers was constructed. Moreover, the cubosome interaction with Escherichia coli was directly visualized using super-resolution laser scanning microscopy and cryogenic electron tomography. We could conclude that cubosomes loaded with LL-37 adsorbed and distorted bacterial membranes, providing evidence that the peptide-loaded cubosomes function as an antimicrobial unit.

Keywords: LL-37; antimicrobial peptide; bacteria; cubosome; membrane.

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Infective Agents / chemistry*
  • Anti-Infective Agents / pharmacology*
  • Antimicrobial Cationic Peptides / chemistry
  • Antimicrobial Cationic Peptides / pharmacology
  • Cathelicidins
  • Electron Microscope Tomography
  • Escherichia coli / drug effects*
  • Humans
  • Lipid Bilayers / chemistry
  • Liposomes / chemistry
  • Membranes / chemistry*
  • Microscopy, Confocal
  • Microscopy, Electron, Transmission
  • Quartz Crystal Microbalance Techniques


  • Anti-Infective Agents
  • Antimicrobial Cationic Peptides
  • Lipid Bilayers
  • Liposomes
  • Cathelicidins