Tumor necrosis factor (TNF) released by lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-stimulated mononuclear phagocytes is a critical mediator of sepsis. We examined the capacities of rough mutant Salmonella typhimurium LPS (Rc) and LPS partial structures lipid A, monophosphoryl lipid A (MPLA), lipid IVA, and lipid X to induce production of TNF in whole blood. Rc LPS (0.0001-10 ng/ml) produced a dose-dependent release of TNF as determined by cytotoxicity of actinomycin D-sensitized L929 murine fibroblasts. Lipid A, MPLA, lipid IVA, and lipid X exhibited decreasing capacities to stimulate production of TNF in whole blood, respectively. Fractional deacylation of LPS by incubation with acyloxyacyl hydrolase isolated from human leukocytes produced a reduction in the capacity of LPS to induce TNF release in whole blood. Maximal enzymatic deacylation reduced activity of LPS by greater than 100-fold. Coincubation with lipid IVA inhibited TNF release induced by Rc LPS or lipid A, but not by phorbol ester. In contrast, MPLA, lipid X, and deacylated LPS failed to inhibit LPS-stimulated release of TNF. Corresponding to the inhibition of the release of TNF protein, lipid IVA also inhibited the accumulation of TNF mRNA in LPS-stimulated mononuclear cells. These results suggest that lipid IVA may act as a competitive antagonist of LPS, perhaps at the receptor level.

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