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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Cephalosporin antibiotics can be modified to inhibit human leukocyte elastase.

Several laboratories, including our own have reported the synthesis and activity of certain low relative molecular mass inhibitors of mammalian serine proteases, especially human leukocyte elastase (HLE, EC, an enzyme whose degradative activity on lung elastin has been implicated as a major causative factor in the induction of pulmonary emphysema, and which is present in the azurophil granules of human polymorphonuclear leukocytes (PMN). Normally, these granules fuse with phagosomes containing engulfed foreign material (such as bacteria), and HLE, in combination with other lysosomal enzymes, catabolizes the particles. Under certain pathological conditions, however, PMN become attached to host protein (elastin fibres, basement membrane, connective tissue, immune complexes), and in response to this adherence, the granules may fuse with the PMN outer membrane and release their contents, including HLE, directly onto the tissue. Besides emphysema, HLE may also contribute to the pathogenesis of disease states such as adult respiratory distress syndrome, and its potential involvement in rheumatoid arthritis makes HLE inhibitors of considerable interest. It is known that cephalosporin antibiotics (for example, cephalothin (compound I, Table 2)) are acylating inhibitors of bacterial serine proteases which help synthesize the cell wall by performing a transpeptidation reaction on a peptidyl substrate bearing a D-Ala-D-Ala terminus. We now report that neutral cephalosporins (that is, compounds not bearing a free carboxyl at position C-4) can be modified to become potent time-dependent inhibitors of HLE.[1]


  1. Cephalosporin antibiotics can be modified to inhibit human leukocyte elastase. Doherty, J.B., Ashe, B.M., Argenbright, L.W., Barker, P.L., Bonney, R.J., Chandler, G.O., Dahlgren, M.E., Dorn, C.P., Finke, P.E., Firestone, R.A. Nature (1986) [Pubmed]
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