Differential stability of therapeutic peptides with different proteolytic cleavage sites in blood, plasma and serum.

TitleDifferential stability of therapeutic peptides with different proteolytic cleavage sites in blood, plasma and serum.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2017
AuthorsBöttger R, Hoffmann R, Knappe D
JournalPLoS One
Date Published06/2017

Proteolytic degradation of peptide-based drugs is often considered as major weakness limiting systemic therapeutic applications. Therefore, huge efforts are typically devoted to stabilize sequences against proteases present in serum or plasma, obtained as supernatants after complete blood coagulation or centrifugation of blood supplemented with anticoagulants, respectively. Plasma and serum are reproducibly obtained from animals and humans allowing consistent for clinical analyses and research applications. However, the spectrum of active or activated proteases appears to vary depending on the activation of proteases and cofactors during coagulation (serum) or inhibition of such enzymes by anticoagulants (plasma), such as EDTA (metallo- and Ca2+-dependent proteases) and heparin (e.g. thrombin, factor Xa). Here, we studied the presumed effects on peptide degradation by taking blood via cardiac puncture of CD-1 mice using a syringe containing a peptide solution. Due to absence of coagulation activators (e.g. glass surfaces and damaged cells), visible blood clotting was prevented allowing to study peptide degradation for one hour. The remaining peptide was quantified and the degradation products were identified using mass spectrometry. When the degradation rates (half-life times) were compared to serum derived freshly from the same animal and commercial serum and plasma samples, peptides of three different families showed indeed considerably different stabilities. Generally, peptides were faster degraded in serum than in plasma, but surprisingly all peptides were more stable in fresh blood and the order of degradation rates among the peptides varied among the six different incubation experiments. This indicates, that proteolytic degradation of peptide-based therapeutics may often be misleading stimulating efforts to stabilize peptides at degradation sites relevant only in vitro, i.e., for serum or plasma stability assays, but of lower importance in vivo.

Alternate JournalPLoS ONE
PubMed ID28575099
PubMed Central IDPMC5456363