Research Report

Innate immunity

1. LPS in the environment

Table 1. Content of LPS in food/medical plants

Table 1

LPS (lipopolisaccharide, glycolipid), derived from Gram-negative bacteria, was found in 1892 as the toxin of Vibrio cholerae and was named Endotoxin meaning the toxin in bacterium (attached to bacterium) as compared to the toxin secreted out side of bacterium *1. Since then, this substance has been known as an effector causing lethal toxic shock, pyrogenic response, hypotention in the case of invasion by Gram-negative bacteria in the body such as observed in sepsis. On the other hand, strangely, endogenous injection of LPS, has effects to cure cancer, enhance adjuvant activity, or augment resistance against infections. Researchers have made clear since then that LPS is a factor to activate cells of the innate immune system.

LPS adhere to many of food plants, and especially LPS content is high in Chinese medicine *2. The result of epidemiological investigation reporting that inhalation of LPS mixed in the surroundings, for example, feces of domestic animals, in early childhood prevent from developing an allergic constitution. This result, which was recently broadcasted by NHK and called people's attention, demonstrated an etiological cause capable of explaining why allergic diseased are observed in many of the people of the present age who live in hygienic conditions *3.

Therefore our company analyzed the content of LPS in food plants and medicinal plants. As the result, LPS content is high in plants such as Undaria pinnatifida (one kind of sea weeds), Angelica keiskei (one kind of vegetable), Wheat germ, Buchwheat, Dokudami (one kind of medical herb), and contained about 10 microgram of LPS per gram of dried sample. Also LPS content in Chinese medicine is even higher and tens of microgram of LPS is contained. Furthermore the study on fermented foods showed that persimmon tannin essence, traditional fermented health food of Ehime prefecture, contained 17 microgram/g of LPS suggesting the involvement of Gram-negative bacteria with fermentation.

These results suggested that a part of the effects to improve disease by plants or foods traditionally said to be good for one's health, is attributable to LPS contained in those plants or foods.


*1 Pfeiffer, R., Z. Hyg. Infektkr., 11 393 (1892)
*2 Inagawa, H., Nishizawa, T., Tsukioka, D., Suda, T., Chiba, Y., Okutomi, T., Morikawa, A., Soma, G-I., and Mizuno, D., Chem. Pharm. Bull., 40 994-997 (1992)
*3 Braun-Fahrlander, C., Riedler, J., Herz, U., Eder, W., Waser, M., Grize, L., Maisch, S., Carr, D., Gerlach, F., Bufe, A., Lauener, R. P., Schierl, R., Renz, H., Nowak, D., and von Mutius, E., N. Engl. J. Med., 347 869-877 (2002)


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