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J Immunol. 2009 Aug 15;183(4):2294-302. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.0804091. Epub 2009 Jul 20.

Novel generation mycobacterial adjuvant based on liposome-encapsulated monomycoloyl glycerol from Mycobacterium bovis bacillus Calmette-Guérin.

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Department of Infectious Disease Immunology, Adjuvant Research, Statens Serum Institut, Copenhagen, Denmark;


The immunostimulatory activity of lipids associated with the mycobacterial cell wall has been recognized for several decades and exploited in a large variety of different adjuvant preparations. Previously, we have shown that a mycobacterial lipid extract from Mycobacterium bovis bacillus Calmette-Guérin delivered in cationic liposomes was a particular efficient Th1-inducing adjuvant formulation effective against tuberculosis. Herein, we have dissected the adjuvant activity of the bacillus Calmette-Guérin lipid extract showing that the majority of the activity was attributable to the apolar lipids and more specifically to a single lipid, monomycoloyl glycerol (MMG), previously also shown to stimulate human dendritic cells. Delivered in cationic liposomes, MMG induced the most prominent Th1-biased immune response that provided significant protection against tuberculosis. Importantly, a simple synthetic analog of MMG, based on a 32 carbon mycolic acid, was found to give rise to comparable high Th1-biased responses with a major representation of polyfunctional CD4 T cells coexpressing IFN-gamma, TNF-alpha, and IL-2. Furthermore, comparable activity was shown by an even simpler monoacyl glycerol analog, based on octadecanoic acid. The use of these synthetic analogs of MMG represents a promising new strategy for exploiting the immunostimulatory activity and adjuvant potential of components from the mycobacterial cell wall without the associated toxicity issues observed with complex mycobacterial preparations.

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