A Novel Serine Protease Inhibitor PE-BBI Ameliorates Cockroach Extract-Mediated Airway Epithelial Barrier Dysfunction

James Reihill, Xuan Ouyang, Zhixuan Yang, Lisa Douglas, Mei Zhou, Tianbao Chen, Lorraine Martin*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
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Epithelial barrier dysfunction, characteristic of allergic airway disease may be, at least in part, due to the action of allergen-associated protease activities. Cockroach allergy is a major global health issue, with cockroaches containing considerable serine trypsin-like protease (TLP) activity. The present study sought to evaluate two novel protease inhibitors (PE-BBI and pLR-HL), recently isolated from amphibian skin secretions, for their potential to neutralise cockroach TLP activity and to determine any protective effect on cockroach-induced airway epithelial barrier disruption. Inhibitor potencies against the cockroach-associated activities were determined using a fluorogenic peptide substrate-based activity assay. 16HBE14o- cells (16HBE; a bronchial epithelial cell line) were treated with cockroach extract (CRE) in the presence or absence of the compounds in order to assess cell viability (RealTime Glo luminescent assay) and epithelial barrier disruption (transepithelial resistance and paracellular dextran flux). PE-BBI potently and selectively inhibited CRE TLP activity (pIC50 -8), but not host (16HBE) cell surface activity, which conferred protection of 16HBE cells from CRE-induced cell damage and barrier disruption. Novel protease inhibitor strategies such as PE- BBI may be useful for the treatment of allergic airway disease caused by cockroach proteases.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages9
Issue number515
Publication statusPublished - 28 Mar 2020


  • cockroach
  • allergen
  • protease
  • protease inhibitor
  • airway epithelium
  • airway epithelial barrier
  • airway epithelial barrier dysfunction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine


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