In testing several egg lecithin preparations prepared by ourselves it was found that they did not react in complement fixation tests with immune sera made by injections with commercial egg lecithin Merck. With the flocculation method two of the preparations reacted only faintly. Also the brain lecithin and hydrolecithin gave no distinct reactions.
The immunization experiments of Sachs and Klopstock could easily be confirmed when commercial egg lecithin Merck was used for the injections. Immunizations with brain lecithin and hydrolecithin yielded no active sera. With an egg lecithin (No. 1) prepared by us the results were not satisfactory though a great number of injections was made. Only one serum gave reactions of medium strength by complement fixation and in flocculation tests with emulsions of Merck lecithin. It did not react however with the lecithin preparation No. 1 itself. In this respect the results resemble to a certain degree those of Sachs and Klopstock with their lecithin Bohringer immune serum. While the reactions of Merck lecithin were slightly diminished by the removal of cholesterol) addition of cholesterol to the lecithin No. 1 had no marked effect on the complement fixation tests, even when a larger amount was added than that present in the Merck preparation. The cholesterol content of this lecithin therefore does not suffice to account for the difference in the results. It is noteworthy that our lecithin immune serum No. 967 gave complement fixation with emulsions of cholesterol although this substance was not present in the injected material.
There are several plausible explanations for our results. According to one, the production of antibodies for lecithin would depend on certain physicochemical conditions of the emulsion injected or upon the presence of auxiliary substances in the lecithin preparation (cf. Sachs and Klopstock). Another possibility is that the active agent inducing the formation of antibodies is not lecithin itself but some other substance present in the active lecithin preparations. With regard to the latter assumption it may be mentioned that we obtained definite immunization effects from several injections of quantities as little as 0.2 mg. of purified preparations of Forssman's heterogcnetic haptene mixed with pig serum.2
To decide between the alternative explanations, further studies are necessary.