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Effects of P-MAPA Immunomodulator on Toll-Like Receptors and p53: Potential Therapeutic Strategies for Infectious Diseases and Cancer

Wagner J Fávaro12*, Odilon S Nunes2, Fabio RF Seiva1, Iseu S Nunes2, Lisa K Woolhiser3, Nelson Durán245 and Anne J Lenaerts3

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Structural and Functional Biology, Institute of Biology, University of Campinas (UNICAMP), CP-6109, 13083-865, Campinas, SP, Brazil

2 Farmabrasilis R&D Division, Campinas, SP, Brazil

3 Department of Microbiology, Immunology, and Pathology, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado, USA

4 Institute of Chemistry, Biological Chemistry Laboratory, UNICAMP - University of Campinas, Campinas, SP, Brazil

5 Center of Natural and Human Sciences, Universidade Federal do ABC, Santo André, SP, Brazil

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Infectious Agents and Cancer 2012, 7:14  doi:10.1186/1750-9378-7-14

Published: 18 June 2012



Compounds that can act as agonists for toll-like receptors (TLRs) may be promising candidates for the development of drugs against infectious diseases and cancer. The present study aimed to characterize the immunomodulatory effects of P-MAPA on TLRs in vitro and in vivo, as well as to investigate its potential as adjuvant therapy in infectious diseases and cancer.


For these purposes, the activity of P-MAPA on TLRs was assayed in vitro through NF-κB activation in HEK293 cells expressing a given TLR, and using an in vivo animal model for bladder cancer (BC). The antimicrobial activity of P-MAPA was tested against Mycobacterium tuberculosis (TB) in vitro in an MIC assay, and in vivo using an aerosol infection model of murine tuberculosis. Antitumor effects of P-MAPA were tested in an animal model with experimentally induced BC. Moxifloxacin (MXF) and Bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG) were used as positive controls in the animal models.


The results showed that P-MAPA, administered alone or in combination with MXF, induced significant responses in vivo against TB. In contrast, the compound did not show antimicrobial activity in vitro. P-MAPA showed a significant stimulatory effect on human TLR2 and TLR4 in vitro. In BC, TLR2, TLR4 and p53 protein levels were significantly higher in the P-MAPA group than in the BCG group. The most common histopathological changes in each group were papillary carcinoma in BC group, low-grade intraepithelial neoplasia in BCG group and simple hyperplasia in P-MAPA group. Concerning the toxicological analysis performed during BC treatment, P-MAPA did not show evidence for hepatotoxicity and nephrotoxicity.


In conclusion, P-MAPA acted as TLR ligand in vitro and improved the immunological status in BC, increasing TLR2 and TLR4 protein levels. P-MAPA immunotherapy was more effective in restoring p53 and TLRs reactivities and showed significantly greater antitumor activity than BCG. The activation of TLRs and p53 may provide a hypothetical mechanism for the therapeutic effects in both cancer and infectious diseases. Taken together data obtained will encourage the further investigation of P-MAPA as a potential candidate for the treatment of cancer and infectious diseases.

Bacillus Calmette-Guerin; Immunotherapy; Toll-like receptor; p53; Infectious diseases; Mycobacterium tuberculosis; Bladder cancer.