The effect of her egg-white lysozyme (HEWL) on immune response was evaluated by measuring antibody-producing cells and circulating antibodies in mice inoculated with the test antigen (SRBC or BSA) and HEWL at the same time but in a separate body area. HEWL caused a premature decline in SRBC-specific plaque forming cells (PFC) and a reduction in the total amount of these cells. HEWL inhibited antibody production against BSA in the primary response, but was devoid of any effect on the secondary response elicited in the same mice by a second inoculation of the test antigen. The inhibitory effect of HEWL was dose-dependent, being maximal with 300 mu-g, required an enzymatically active protein and was not shown by other basic proteins. HEWL also abolished the enhancing effect of LPS and CFA on anti-BSA antibody production. The inhibitory activity of HEWL was further increased by hydrolyzed peptidoglycan. These results suggest that HEWL modulates the immune response in mice and performs this function through activation of non-specific suppression mechanisms.
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