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Mediators of Inflammation
Volume 11, Issue 2, Pages 129-135

Augmentation of NKT and NK cell-mediated cytotoxicity by peptidoglycan monomer linked with zinc

Department of Physiology and Immunology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Rijeka, B. Branchetta 22, Rijeka HR-51000, Croatia

Copyright © 2002 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.


Background: Peptidoglycan monomer (PGM), which was originally prepared by biosynthesis from culture fluids of penicillin-treated Brevibacterium divaricatum, is an immunostimulator, the activities of which might be improved by addition of zinc (Zn) to the basic molecule.

Methods: To test the possible cytotoxic effects of this new analogue, we analyzed the ability of PGM-Zn and PGM to change the phenotypic profile of hepatic and splenic mononuclear lymphatic cells and to affect the growth of malignant T-cell line YAC-1 and syngeneic thymocytes.

Results: Pretreatment of C57BL/6 mice primarily with PGM-Zn over 6 days (10/mg/kg intraperitoneally) significantly enhanced the proportions of NK1.1high+, CD4-CD8-, CD69+, and CD3intermediate/NK1.1 +/IL2R-β+ (NKT) cells in the liver, and major histocompatibility complex class II+, CD69+, and CD8+ cells in the spleen. Both types of cells were highly cytotoxic against YAC-1 and syngeneic thymocytes, increasing the destruction of YAC-1 by 70% on addition of hepatic cells and by 30% on addition of splenic cells. Destruction of thymocytes increased by 10 and 50%, respectively.

Conclusion: The results point to PGM-Zn as a potent cytotoxicity-inducing agent, which also generates autoreactive NKT cells.