Letter | Published:

Immunological Priming without Production of Circulating Bacterial Antibodies conditioned by Endotoxin and its Lipoid A Component

Nature volume 212, pages 420421 (22 October 1966) | Download Citation



AN unusual type of immuno-suppression was detected recently1 as a result of the following investigations. In 1962, Kunin et al.2 discovered an antigen common to numerous enteric bacteria, employing Escherichia coli O14 anti-serum and the haemagglutination test. Although this antigen is present in many species of Gram-negative bacteria, including Escherichia, Aerobacter, Salmonella, Shigella and Proteus, only very few serogroups, notably E. coli O14, engender antibodies on intravenous injection into rabbits. This difference in immunogenicity between E. coli O14 and the others is not due to differences in the amount of common antigen (CA) used for immunization, as revealed by haemagglutination inhibition tests3. Suzuki et al.4 observed that CA can be separated from O antigen by means of 85 per cent ethanol, the former being soluble and the latter insoluble. In contrast to the cultures or their supernatants, the ethanol soluble fraction was found to be highly immunogenic in the rabbit4. Moreover, the ethanol insoluble fraction, containing the O antigen, as well as highly purified lipopolysaccharides (endotoxins), when administered with ethanol soluble CA, suppresses the CA immune response1. Additional observations revealed that the lipoid A component of endotoxins has a similar effect5. This immuno-suppression occurs when antigen and inhibitor are injected as mixtures, but not when they are administered separately and simultaneously4,5. This was interpreted as indicating that the suppression of the immune response was the result of the alteration of the antigen rather than the effects of endotoxin or its lipoid A component on the host. In the present experiments the injection of mixtures of CA and inhibitor resulted in specific immunological priming of the rabbit without the formation of circulating antibodies in significant titres. The state of priming was detected by the marked response to minimal amounts of CA, resulting in the rapid production of circulating antibodies in high titre.

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  1. Departments of Pediatrics and Bacteriology, State University of New York, Buffalo, New York.

    • E. NETER
    •  & H. Y. WHANG
  2. Max-Planck Institüt für Immunologie, Freiburg.

    •  & O. WESTPHAL


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