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Mediators of Inflammation
Volume 2, Issue 7, Pages S11-S16
Review paper

Bacterial endotoxins: biological properties and mechanisms of action

Max-Planck-Institut für Immunbiologie, Stübeweg 51, Freiburg 7800, Germany

Copyright © 1993 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Endotoxins (lipopolysaccharides, LPS) are agents of pathogenicity of Gram-negative bacteria, implicated in the development of Gram-negative shock. Endotoxin reacts with lipopolysaccharide-sensitive cells producing endogenous mediators such as tumour necrosis factor alpha (TNFα). Macrophages are cells mediating the toxic activities of LPS and TNFα is the primary mediator of the lethal action of endotoxin. This review article discusses the various mechanisms by which endotoxin hypersensitivity in bacteria-sensitized animals develops. The paper concludes with a discussion on the possible protective effect of carnitine congeners against the lethal action of LPS.