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Mediators of Inflammation
Volume 2005 (2005), Issue 1, Pages 31-38

Mechanisms Mediating the Biologic Activity of Synthetic Proline, Glycine, and Hydroxyproline Polypeptides in Human Neutrophils

1Division of Neonatology, Department of Pediatrics, UMDNJ Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, New Brunswick, NJ 08903, USA
2Department of Environmental and Occupational Medicines , UMDNJ Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, Piscataway, NJ 08854, USA
3Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, Rutgers University, Piscataway, NJ 08854, USA

Received 5 October 2004; Accepted 1 November 2004

Copyright © 2005 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The accumulation of neutrophils at sites of tissue injury or infection is mediated by chemotactic factors released as part of the inflammatory process. Some of these factors are generated as a direct consequence of tissue injury or infection, including degradation fragments of connective tissue collagen and bacterial- or viral-derived peptides containing collagen-related structural motifs. In these studies, we examined biochemical mechanisms mediating the biologic activity of synthetic polypeptides consisting of repeated units of proline (Pro), glycine (Gly), and hydroxyproline (Hyp), major amino acids found within mammalian and bacterial collagens. We found that the peptides were chemoattractants for neutrophils. Moreover, their chemotactic potency was directly related to their size and composition. Thus, the pentameric peptides (Pro-Pro-Gly)5 and (Pro-Hyp-Gly)5 were more active in inducing chemotaxis than the corresponding decameric peptides (Pro-Pro-Gly)10 and (Pro-Hyp-Gly)10. In addition, the presence of Hyp in peptides reduced chemotactic activity. The synthetic peptides were also found to reduce neutrophil apoptosis. In contrast to chemotaxis, this activity was independent of peptide size or composition. The effects of the peptides on both chemotaxis and apoptosis were blocked by inhibitors of phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3-K) and p38 mitogen-activated protein (MAP) kinase. However, only (Pro-Pro-Gly)5 and (Pro-Pro-Gly)10 induced expression of PI3-K and phosphorylation of p38 MAP kinase, suggesting a potential mechanism underlying reduced chemotactic activity of Hyp-containing peptides. Although none of the synthetic peptides tested had any effect on intracellular calcium mobilization, each induced nuclear binding activity of the transcription factor NF-κB. These findings indicate that polymeric polypeptides containing Gly-X-Y collagen-related structural motifs promote inflammation by inducing chemotaxis and blocking apoptosis. However, distinct calcium-independent signaling pathways appear to be involved in these activities.