Zoom in on bacterial endotoxins and their application in Life Sciences 

Published on November 26th, 2020, by Labtoo's team

What are bacterial endotoxins?

Bacterial endotoxins, also known as lipopolysaccharides (LPS), are the major glycolipids of most Gram-negative bacterial outer membranes. Contributing to the structural integrity of bacteria, LPS forming the outer layer of their membrane represent about 50% of its weight and cover about 75% of the bacterial surface.

LPS are essentially composed of two unique parts: a hydrophilic polysaccharide region linked to a hydrophobic one, termed lipid A. The LPS polysaccharide moiety is divided into several sections: the core oligosaccharide, divided in an inner core and an outer core, and O-chain repetitive elements forming the antigen O.

LPS molecules are highly immunogenic, inducing a strong immune response from infected organisms. While the polysaccharide moiety carries the antigenic determinants (O-chains or core side chains), the lipid A portion is recognized by the innate immune cell receptors (macrophages and dendritic cells), leading to the activation of signaling cascades and resulting in the secretion of pro-inflammatory cytokines, thereby initiating inflammatory and immune defense responses.


What are the applications of LPS in science?

Endotoxins form a family of heterogeneous molecules, whose antigen O greatly differs between bacterial species. This structural heterogeneity leads to different biological activities. Since bacterial endotoxins can trigger mild to severe inflammatory reactions, their applications are numerous.

LPS are used for example in the pharmaceutical industry as vaccine antigens to produce vaccines. They can also be used to produce antibodies in order to develop in vitro diagnostic tests. Some types of slightly immunogenic LPS are also used in cosmetic products for their beneficial effects on the skin.


LPS-BioSciences: the example of a CRO specialized in LPS

Founded in November 2011 by Dr. Martine CAROFF, the well-known head of research in the endotoxin structural analysis domain, and Dr. Jean Marc CAVAILLON, former president of the international Endotoxin and Innate Immunity Society, LPS-BioSciences is a young French innovative company focusing on research, development, and commercialization of endotoxin (lipopolysaccharides, LPS) related products and customized services.

The starting point of the company’s foundation? Everything started 50 years ago with the creation of a CNRS research team at Paris Sud University with the goal to study and explore endotoxins' structures and break the secrets of their biological activities. During 40 years of research at this university, Dr. Martine CAROFF developed great know-how on endotoxins' extraction and structural analysis.

Find out more

LPS-BioSciences offers a wide range of services to pharmaceutical companies, biotech societies, and academic researchers that conduct research projects based on LPS. LPS-BioSciences owns a patented method of LPS extraction without using any organic or polluting solvent. They can help research structures that wish to develop vaccines or diagnostic tests. Also specialized in mass spectrometry, this CRO proposes services for antigen identification, selection, and structure characterization.

LPS-BioSciences also makes its expertise available for cosmetic and agri-food companies by offering services in LPS quantification and elimination; this is for example used to detect and remove LPS-contaminating hyaluronic acid or food.

Do you need to produce antigenic lipopolysaccharides for your R&D project?