Lipopolysaccharides (LPS) are the main components of the external leaflet of the Gram-negative outer membrane and consist of three different moieties: lipid A, core oligosaccharide, and O-polysaccharide. The lipid A is a glucosamine disaccharide with different levels of acylation and phosphorylation, beside carrying, in certain cases, additional substituents on the sugar backbone. It is also the main immunostimulatory part of the LPS, as its recognition by the host immune system represents a fundamental event for detection of perilous microorganisms. However, an uncontrolled immune response caused by a large amount of circulating LPS can lead to dramatic outcomes for human health, such as septic shock. The immunostimulant properties of an LPS incredibly vary depending on lipid A chemical structure, and for this reason, natural and synthetic variants of the lipid A are under study to develop new drugs that mimic or antagonise its natural effects. Here, we review past and recent findings on the lipid A as a drug target and immune-therapeutic molecule, with a special attention on the crucial role of the chemical structure and its exploitation for conceiving novel strategies for treatment of several immune-related related pathologies.
Copyright © 2021. Published by Elsevier Inc.