The naturally occurring peptide thymosin alpha 1 (Ta-1) has long been recognized for its immune-modulating properties. It has been found to have multiple clinical applications, such as in infectious diseases, malignancies and in immunocompromised states. Recent studies have also indicated that this peptide may be of potential benefit in treating severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 infection.
Biological Activities of Ta-1
The biochemical properties of thymosin alpha 1 are primarily associated with its ability to stimulate the activity of CD4+ and CD8+ T cells. T cells are key players in the immune system and play a critical role in the body’s defense against infection and disease. They are the most important lymphocyte type in the human body.
Moreover, thymosin alpha 1 has been reported to increase production of natural killer cells and decrease levels of tumor necrosis factor-a. These effects can help to suppress the inflammation caused by cancer and other chronic inflammatory conditions such as psoriatic arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and systemic lupus erythematosus.
Immunomodulatory Effects of Ta-1
The in vivo and in vitro anti-inflammatory, immunomodulatory and cytoprotective activities of thymosin alpha 1 have been shown to result from its ability to increase indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase (IDO) expression in the bronchial epithelium. In addition, thymosin alpha 1 promotes the maturation and stability of CFTR in a murine model of CF and rescues CFTR dysfunction in F508del-CFTR transgenic mice, as well as in primary human bronchial epithelial cells.
In order to study the effects of denaturing conditions on Ta-1, we measured its ion mobility spectroscopy with a 50% organic solvent and pH 2. When exposed to these conditions, the peptide’s predominantly a-helical 3D structure was altered. However, this change was reversible and the peptide reverted to its native state when it was returned to its original dissolution conditions for MS.