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Phosphorylated dextran (P-Dex) is an acidic polysaccharide that functions as an immune adjuvant. P-Dex is known to regulate immune response by maintaining a balance between Th1 and Th2 cells in vitro, and thus may also be important in the control of allergic reactions. In the current study, we report the optimum conditions required for the efficient phosphorylation of dextran without toxicity. We found that when dextran was heated at 160C for 24 h in phosphate buffer (pH 5.0), the resulting P-Dex demonstrated the highest phosphorus content (6.8%). We also report that P-Dex enhances mitogenic activity in mouse splenocytes and induces expression of CD69 and CD86 on the surface of B cells and dendritic cells (DC) in vitro. Oral administration of P-Dex to ovalubmin (OVA)-immunized mice was found to reduce antigen-induced cell proliferation and suppress the expression of CD86 on Th2-inducing DC via exogenous OVA stimulation. P-Dex was also found to increase IL-10 expression in the splenocytes of treated mice. These findings suggest that oral administration of P-Dex increases immunological tolerance and improves the specificity of immunological response to specific antigens.