The pyrogenicity of the synthetic adjuvant muramyl dipeptide and two structural analogues

J Infect Dis. 1978 Dec;138(6):760-7. doi: 10.1093/infdis/138.6.760.


The pyrogenic efect of the synthetic adjuvant N-acetylmuramyl-L-alanine-D-isoglutamine, also known as muramyl dipeptide (MDP), was studied in rabbits. MDP induced biphasic fevers in rabbits, but two structural analogues, N-acetylmuramyl-L-alanine-D-glutamic acid (MDPA) and the dimethylester of MDPA, were 10 times less pyrogenic. This finding was supported by studies in which MDP and its analogues released leukocytic pyrogen (LP) from rabbit phagocytic cells in vitro. In addition, MDP released LP from human phagocytes. Human phagocytes, however, required a 10-fold greater concentration of MDP than did rabbit cells. The structural analogues were similarly less effective than the parent molecule in releasing LP from human cells. All preparations of MDP were negative in the limulus amebocyte lysate test and failed to show pyrogenic cross-tolerance with bacterial endotoxin. Thus MDP, which is a pyrogenic molecule, is also able to release LP from rabbit phagocytes and to a lesser degree from human phagocytes, but does not cause gelation of limulus amebocyte lysate.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Acetylmuramyl-Alanyl-Isoglutamine*
  • Adjuvants, Immunologic / pharmacology*
  • Animals
  • Endotoxins / immunology
  • Escherichia coli
  • Glycopeptides*
  • Humans
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Limulus Test
  • Neutrophils / drug effects
  • Neutrophils / metabolism
  • Phagocytes / metabolism
  • Pyrogens* / metabolism
  • Rabbits
  • Staphylococcus
  • Stimulation, Chemical


  • Adjuvants, Immunologic
  • Endotoxins
  • Glycopeptides
  • Pyrogens
  • Acetylmuramyl-Alanyl-Isoglutamine