Structural decomposition and heterogeneity of commercial lipoteichoic acid preparations

Siegfried Morath, Armin Geyer, Ingo Spreitzer, Corinna Hermann, Thomas Hartung

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Fractionation of commercial preparations of lipoteichoic acids (LTA) by hydrophobic interaction chromatography (HIC) and nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy revealed very inhomogeneous compositions and decomposition of the LTA structure: LTA content of the preparations averaged 61% for Streptococcus pyogenes, 16% for Bacillus subtilis, and 75% for Staphylococcus aureus. The decomposition was characterized by a loss of glycerophosphate units as well as alanine and N-acetylglucosamine substituents. All preparations contained - to varying degrees - non-LTA, non-lipopolysaccharide (LPS) immunostimulatory components as indicated by their elution profile in HIC, lack of phosphate, and negative Limulus amoebocyte lysate (LAL) test results. After purification, the commercial LTA from Bacillus subtilis and S. pyogenes but not LTA from S. aureus induced the release of tumor necrosis factor alpha, interleukin 1 beta (IL-1β), IL-6, and IL-10 in human blood. While pure LTA are negative in the LAL assay, endotoxin equivalents of more than 10 ng of LPS/mg of LTA were found in the commercial preparations. Taken together, these data indicate that these crude preparations with relatively high endotoxin contamination are not suitable for characterizing the activation of immune cells by LTA.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)938-944
Number of pages7
JournalInfection and immunity
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2002
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Infectious Diseases

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