There is a clinical need for conceptually new treatments that target the excessive activation of inflammatory pathways during systemic infection. Thrombin-derived C-terminal peptides (TCPs) are endogenous anti-infective immunomodulators interfering with CD14-mediated TLR-dependent immune responses. Here we describe the development of a peptide-based compound for systemic use, sHVF18, expressing the evolutionarily conserved innate structural fold of natural TCPs. Using a combination of structure- and in silico-based design, nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, biophysics, mass spectrometry, cellular, and in vivo studies, we here elucidate the structure, CD14 interactions, protease stability, transcriptome profiling, and therapeutic efficacy of sHVF18. The designed peptide displays a conformationally stabilized, protease resistant active innate fold and targets the LPS-binding groove of CD14. In vivo, it shows therapeutic efficacy in experimental models of endotoxin shock in mice and pigs and increases survival in mouse models of systemic polymicrobial infection. The results provide a drug class based on Nature´s own anti-infective principles.

Original languageEnglish
Article number6097
Pages (from-to)1-20
JournalNature Communications
Publication statusPublished - 2023 Sept 29

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Pharmaceutical Sciences

Free keywords

  • Animals
  • Mice
  • Swine
  • Lipopolysaccharides/metabolism
  • Toll-Like Receptors/metabolism
  • Inflammation/pathology
  • Peptides/chemistry
  • Peptide Hydrolases
  • Lipopolysaccharide Receptors/metabolism


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