Various subcellular bacterial fractions are known to enhance immune responses and serve as potent adjuvants. Muramyl dipeptide (MDP), a synthetic adjuvant mimicking a component of mycobacterial cell walls, enhances humoral immunity to soluble antigens and can increase macrophage cytotoxicity toward mastocytoma cells in vitro. In the present study MDP was found to enhance the hemolytic antibody plaque response of normal mouse spleen cells in vitro to SRBC at a level equal to or greater than that induced by Escherichia coli lipopolysaccharide. Furthermore, MDP was found to enhance the antibody response to SRBC nonspecifically in unimmunized spleen cell cultures, suggesting that similar to LPS the synthetic dipeptide may induce a generalized clonal expansion of committed lymphocytes and thus serve as a “polyclonal activator.” MDP also enhanced the immune responsiveness of normal splenocytes to suboptimum concentrations of SRBC, indicating that this material may be useful in enhancing immunity in situations where there would normally be a poor immune response.

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