Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Antimicrobial peptides of the Cecropin-family show potent antitumor activity against bladder cancer cells

Henrik Suttmann1*, Margitta Retz2, Friedrich Paulsen3, Jürgen Harder4, Ulrike Zwergel1, Jörn Kamradt1, Bernd Wullich1, Gerhard Unteregger1, Michael Stöckle1 and Jan Lehmann1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Urology and Pediatric Urology, Saarland University Hospital, Homburg/Saar, Germany

2 Department of Urology, TU rechts der Isar, München, Germany

3 Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology, Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg, Germany

4 Department of Dermatology, University Hospital Schleswig-Holstein, Campus Kiel, Germany

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BMC Urology 2008, 8:5  doi:10.1186/1471-2490-8-5

Published: 3 March 2008



This study evaluated the cytotoxic and antiproliferative efficacy of two well-characterized members of the Cecropin-family of antimicrobial peptides against bladder tumor cells and benign fibroblasts.


The antiproliferative and cytotoxic potential of the Cecropins A and B was quantified by colorimetric WST-1-, BrdU- and LDH-assays in four bladder cancer cell lines as well as in murine and human fibroblast cell lines. IC50 values were assessed by logarithmic extrapolation, representing the concentration at which cell viability was reduced by 50%. Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) was performed to visualize the morphological changes induced by Cecropin A and B in bladder tumor cells and fibroblasts.


Cecropin A and B inhibit bladder cancer cell proliferation and viability in a dose-dependent fashion. The average IC50 values of Cecropin A and B against all bladder cancer cell lines ranged between 73.29 μg/ml and 220.05 μg/ml. In contrast, benign fibroblasts were significantly less or not at all susceptible to Cecropin A and B. Both Cecropins induced an increase in LDH release from bladder tumor cells whereas benign fibroblasts were not affected. SEM demonstrated lethal membrane disruption in bladder cancer cells as opposed to fibroblasts.


Cecropin A and B exert selective cytotoxic and antiproliferative efficacy in bladder cancer cells while sparing targets of benign murine or human fibroblast origin. Both peptides may offer novel therapeutic strategies for the treatment of bladder cancer with limited cytotoxic effects on benign cells.