"Dirty little secrets"--endotoxin contamination of recombinant proteins

Sonia J Wakelin, Ian Sabroe, Christopher D Gregory, Ian R Poxton, John L R Forsythe, O James Garden, Sarah E M Howie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The identification of Toll-like receptors has revolutionised our understanding of innate immunity. TLR4 transduces the LPS signal and that of a number of structurally and functionally unrelated agonists. However, recent evidence adds to longstanding concerns that endotoxin contamination of bacterially derived recombinant TLR4 agonists is responsible for effects attributed to these molecules. We highlight key factors in differentiating specific agonist effects from those of endotoxin and emphasize why conventional methods of detecting and eliminating LPS may lead to erroneous results. We propose that considerable caution is needed in the investigation of TLR4 agonists, particularly when using proteins produced in a bacterium that also houses the most ideal TLR4 agonist, LPS.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-7
Number of pages7
JournalImmunology Letters
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jul 2006


  • Animals
  • Drug Contamination
  • Endotoxins
  • Humans
  • Lipopolysaccharides
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Toll-Like Receptor 4


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