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BioMed Research International
Volume 2015 (2015), Article ID 630179, 13 pages
Research Article

A Tetrameric Peptide Derived from Bovine Lactoferricin Exhibits Specific Cytotoxic Effects against Oral Squamous-Cell Carcinoma Cell Lines

1Cellular and Molecular Physiology Group, Biomedical Research Institute, Faculty of Medicine, Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Bogotá 111321, Colombia
2Department of Pharmacy, Faculty of Sciences, Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Bogotá 111321, Colombia
3Department of Chemistry, Faculty of Sciences, Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Bogotá 111321, Colombia
4Centro de Medicina Regenerativa, Faculty of Medicine, Clínica Alemana, Universidad del Desarrollo, 7690000 Santiago, Chile

Received 1 June 2015; Revised 16 September 2015; Accepted 28 September 2015

Academic Editor: Paul M. Tulkens

Copyright © 2015 Víctor A. Solarte et al. 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.


Several short linear peptides derived from cyclic bovine lactoferricin were synthesized and tested for their cytotoxic effect against the oral cavity squamous-cell carcinoma (OSCC) cell lines CAL27 and SCC15. As a control, an immortalized and nontumorigenic cell line, Het-1A, was used. Linear peptides based on the RRWQWR core sequence showed a moderate cytotoxic effect and specificity towards tumorigenic cells. A tetrameric peptide, LfcinB(20–25)4, containing the RRWQWR motif, exhibited greater cytotoxic activity (>90%) in both OSCC cell lines compared to the linear lactoferricin peptide or the lactoferrin protein. Additionally, this tetrameric peptide showed the highest specificity towards tumorigenic cells among the tested peptides. Interestingly, this effect was very fast, with cell shrinkage, severe damage to cell membrane permeability, and lysis within one hour of treatment. Our results are consistent with a necrotic effect rather than an apoptotic one and suggest that this tetrameric peptide could be considered as a new candidate for the therapeutic treatment of OSCC.