The immunological effects of phosphorylated dextran (in which phosphate groups were chemically introduced) on murine splenocytes were examined. When dextran produced by Leuconostoc mesenteroides was phosphorylated by a reaction with polyphosphoric acid in formamide solution for 48 h, the degree of phosphorylation of dextran was maximal. The highest phosphorus content (1.7%, wt/wt) was observed in 40 kDa of dextran. The mitogenic response of murine splenocytes was enhanced by the phosphorylated dextran, but its activity was not related to its molecular weight. A strong response was detected at a concentration of 10 to 500 μg/ml, and the highest activity was obtained 48 h after stimulation. Phosphorylated dextran was characterized as a B-cell-specific mitogen. The expressions of CD86 on CD8α-CD11c- and CD8α-CD11c+ cells were augmented by phosphorylated dextran. The levels of mRNA expression of gamma interferon and interleukin-10 on murine splenocytes were also increased by the stimulation. These results demonstrate that dextran exerts immunostimulation by the introduction of phosphate groups.
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