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Infect Immun. Aug 1989; 57(8): 2425–2429.
PMCID: PMC313464

Comparison of the abilities of different protein sources of iron to enhance Neisseria meningitidis infection in mice.


This study was done primarily to determine whether the previously observed specificity of the meningococcal transferrin and lactoferrin receptors for human proteins was maintained in vivo during meningococcal infection in mice. Preliminary experiments evaluating the choice of host strain, the age and sex of mice, and the growth conditions of the meningococci indicated that 45-day-old female Swiss Webster mice challenged with meningococci grown on low-pH, low-iron Mueller-Hinton agar plates were appropriate for this study. The comparison of transferrins and lactoferrins from different species demonstrated that only the human forms of these proteins were utilized by meningococci; there was significantly greater mortality among mice treated with iron-saturated human transferrin or lactoferrin (93 and 100%, respectively) than among those not treated or treated with iron-saturated bovine transferrin or bovine lactoferrin (0%). Provision of exogenous hemoglobin also resulted in increased mortality, although not as great as that observed with amounts of transferrin with equivalent iron content, which parallels the more effective utilization of transferrin and lactoferrin in in vitro growth experiments. In addition, unlike with transferrin and lactoferrin, there was no difference in utilization of human and bovine hemoglobin in vitro or in vivo.

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Selected References

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