Muramyl dipeptide (MDP) enhanced mitogenic stimulation of mouse lymphocytes by polyclonal B cell activators (peptidoglycan, lipopolysaccharide, Staphylococcus aureus Cowan I cells, and pokeweed mitogen), but not by T-cell mitogens (phytohemagglutinin and concanavalin A). Only adjuvant-active MDP analogs were effective, whereas adjuvant-inactive MDP analogs, muramic acid, peptidoglycan pentapeptide, and low Mr digests of peptidoglycan were not. The half-maximal enhancement was seen at 5-10 μM MDP and occurred at both optimal and suboptimal concentrations of B cell mitogens. The enhancing effect of MDP was exerted on the B cells, since it was T cell- and macrophage-independent and was not mediated by IL-1. MDP was effective during the first 12 hrs of culture, and most strongly enhanced the mitogen-induced DNA synthesis, although significant enhancement of RNA synthesis and B cell differentiation into antibody-secreting cells was also observed. The enhancement of mitogenic response was not due to changed requirements for extracellular or intracellular Ca2+ or to increased activation of protein kinase C. These results demonstrate a novel immunoenhancing effect of MDP that should be useful in the studies on the mechanism of B cell activation.
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