Sleep-promoting activities of muramyl dipeptide (MDP) (NAc-Mur-L-ala-D-isogln) and the naturally occurring muramyl peptide(s), factor S, have recently been demonstrated. We now have amplified our understanding of structural requirements for somnogenic activity. The effects of several analogs of MDP on rabbit slow-wave sleep are presented and these results are compared to the dose-response relationship for MDP. Some tentative conclusions as to structural requirements for somnogenic activity are presented; most notably, amidation of the free gamma-carboxyl of MDP and several of its analogs resulted in the loss of somnogenic activity. MDP also can induce febrile and immunostimulatory responses. In the present paper, we show that some analogs possess immunostimulatory and pyrogenic activity but not somnogenic activity, thus suggesting that these biological activities of muramyl peptides may, in part, be mediated by separate mechanisms.

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