Journal: Journal Of Ocular Pharmacology And Therapeutics : The Official Journal Of The Association For Ocular Pharmacology And Therapeutics, Volume 30, Issue 9, Nov 2014
Microbial pathogens-bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites-are significant causes of blindness, particularly in developing countries. For bacterial and some viral infections a number of antimicrobial drugs are available for therapy but there are fewer available for use in treating fungal and parasitic keratitis. There are also problems with current antimicrobials, such as limited efficacy and the presence of drug-resistant microbes. Thus, there is a need to develop additional drugs. Nature has given us an example of 1 potential source of new antimicrobials: antimicrobial peptides and proteins that are either present in bodily fluids and tissues constitutively or are induced upon infection. Given the nature of peptides, topical applications are the most likely use to be successful and this is ideal for treating keratitis. Such peptides would also be active against drug-resistant pathogens and might act synergistically if used in combination therapy. Hundreds of peptides with antimicrobial properties have been isolated or synthesized but only a handful have been tested against ocular pathogens and even fewer have been tested in animal models. This review summarizes the currently available information on the use of peptides to treat keratitis, outlines some of the problems that have been identified, and discusses future studies that will be needed. Most of the peptides that have been tested have shown activity at concentrations that do not warrant further development, but 1 or 2 have promising activity raising the possibility that peptides can be developed to treat keratitis.