Inhibition of lysozyme aggregation and cellular toxicity by organic acids at acidic and physiological pH conditions

Kenana Al Adem, Suryani Lukman, Tae Yeon Kim, Sungmun Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


The misfolding of proteins can lead to fibrillar and non-fibrillar deposits that are the hallmark of numerous human diseases. Inhibition of protein aggregation is considered as a promising strategy for the prevention of such diseases. Here we induced the fibrillar and non-fibrillar aggregates of hen egg white lysozyme (HEWL) at acidic (pH 3) and physiological (pH 7.4) environments. HEWL formed non-fibrillar aggregates rapidly at pH 7.4, whereas fibrillar HEWL aggregates were formed slowly at pH 3. Both fibrillar and non-fibrillar aggregates had cytotoxic effects on PC12 cells. Next, four organic acids, succinic acid, maleic acid, tartaric acid and citric acid, were tested for their inhibition potencies against fibrillar and non-fibrillar HEWL species. The four inhibitors were found to prevent the aggregation of HEWL at pH 7.4 with a reduction rate of over 95% as compared with the reduction rate of 42–58% for HEWL aggregation at pH 3. Other biophysical and computational analyses reveal that the candidate inhibitors have higher inhibition efficacy against HEWL monomers incubated at pH 7.4 than at pH 3. These results emphasize the importance of validating the newly identified aggregation drugs against different aggregate species, which would enhance the understanding of small molecules-induced protein aggregation inhibition.

Original languageBritish English
Pages (from-to)921-930
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Journal of Biological Macromolecules
StatePublished - 15 Apr 2020


  • Amorphous aggregates
  • Amyloid fibrils
  • Cellular toxicity
  • Molecular docking
  • Organic acids


Dive into the research topics of 'Inhibition of lysozyme aggregation and cellular toxicity by organic acids at acidic and physiological pH conditions'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this