Mass spectrometric characterization of circulating and functional antigens derived from piperacillin in patients with cystic fibrosis

Paul Whitaker, Xiaoli Meng, Sidonie N. Lavergne, Sabah El-Ghaiesh, Manal Monshi, Caroline Earnshaw, Daniel Peckham, Jimmy Gooi, Steve Conway, Munir Pirmohamed, Rosalind E. Jenkins, Dean J. Naisbitt, B. Kevin Park

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A mechanistic understanding of the relationship between the chemistry of drug Ag formation and immune function is lacking. Thus, mass spectrometric methods were employed to detect and fully characterize circulating Ags derived from piperacillin in patients undergoing therapy and the nature of the drug-derived epitopes on protein that can function as an Ag to stimulate T cells. Albumin modification with piperacillin in vitro resulted in the formation of two distinct haptens, one formed directly from piperacillin and a second in which the dioxopiperazine ring had undergone hydrolysis. Modification was time and concentration dependent, with selective modification of Lys541 observed at low concentrations, whereas at higher concentrations, up to 13 out of 59 lysine residues were modified, four of which (Lys190, Lys 195, Lys432, and Lys541) were detected in patients' plasma. Piperacillin-specific T lymphocyte responses (proliferation, cytokines, and granzyme B release) were detected ex vivo with cells from hypersensitive patients, and analysis of incubation medium showed that modification of the same lysine residues in albumin occurred in situ. The antigenicity of piperacillin-modified albumin was confirmed by stimulation of T cells with characterized synthetic conjugates. Analysis of minimally modified T cell-stimulatory albumin conjugates revealed peptide sequences incorporating Lys190, Lys432, and Lys541 as principal functional epitopes for T cells. This study has characterized the multiple haptenic structures on albumin in patients and showed that they constitute functional antigenic determinants for T cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)200-211
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Immunology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 1 2011
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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