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Vet Immunol Immunopathol. 2003 Sep 15;95(1-2):33-42.

Lactoferrin against Staphylococcus aureus Mastitis. Lactoferrin alone or in combination with penicillin G on bovine polymorphonuclear function and mammary epithelial cells colonisation by Staphylococcus aureus.

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  • 1Dairy and Swine Research and Development Centre, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, P.O. Box 90, Lennoxville, QC, Canada J1M 1Z3.


Antibiotics should combine good antibacterial activity and the capacity to work in association with the host defence system. In this study, we have investigated the effects of bovine lactoferrin alone or in combination with penicillin G on the phagocytic activity of bovine polymorphonuclear leukocytes against Staphylococcus aureus. We have shown that susceptibility of S. aureus to phagocytosis was decreased in the presence of penicillin in the medium. In a kinetic study, lactoferrin alone did not affect phagocytosis but, when used with penicillin, it reversed the negative effect of this antibiotic on phagocytosis. In addition, in an epithelial invasion assay, lactoferrin alone or in combination with penicillin reduced the invasion of mammary epithelial cells in culture by S. aureus. Lactating female CD-1 mice were infected by intra-mammary delivery of a virulent penicillin-susceptible S. aureus strain and were then randomly assigned to treatments according to a 2 x 2 factorial design. In this mouse mastitis model, 2 days of systemic treatments with lactoferrin and/or penicillin did not lead to a total clearance of infection by S. aureus, but bacterial number was significantly reduced by treatments with lactoferrin or penicillin. These data suggest that bovine lactoferrin, alone or in combination with penicillin G, enhances S. aureus susceptibility to immuno-defense mechanisms, which can be beneficial in the treatment of S. aureus infections.

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