Endotoxins

Endotoxins are heat stable proteins (lipopolysaccharide) that form structural components of the wall of gram-negative bacteria. They are liberated on  the cell’s lysis or when the microorganisms die. Endotoxins are pyrogens; which are fever-causing agents.

Overview

Endotoxins are categorized as LPS or lipopolysaccharides. They contain fatty acids and disaccharide phosphates. They also contain O antigen and core polysaccharides. Their endotoxin activity is caused by the lipid A portion of lipopolysaccharides. The lipid A component does not cause any harm to the tissues. However, the body’s immune system sees it as an indicator that there is a presence of harmful microorganisms. So, the body’s immune system will do its best to get rid of intruders. This is the immune system’s way of protecting the body.

Endotoxins

  • They are LPS (lipopolysaccharides).
  • They are attached to the bacterial cell wall.
  • For endotoxins to be releases, the cell needs to undergo lysis.
  • They are mostly produced by Gram-negative bacteria.
  • They are heat stable.
  • Production of endotoxins is dependent on the genes located on the bacterial chromosome.
  • They remain active even at 100 degree Celsius.
  • They have a non-specific effect on the body.
  • There is no specific receptor for the entry of endotoxins.
  • They can only be lethal when present in large quantities.
  • They cannot be neutralized by antibodies.
  • They can produce fever to the host.
  • They have a poor antigenic nature. 

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