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Cell Mol Life Sci. 2005 Dec;62(24):3002-13.

Anti herpes simplex virus activity of lactoferrin/lactoferricin -- an example of antiviral activity of antimicrobial protein/peptide.

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  • 1Centre for Microbial Diseases and Immunity Research, University of British Colombia, Room 232, 2259 Lower Mall Research Station, Vancouver, BC, V6T 1Z4, Canada.


One of the most common viral infections in humans is caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV). It was first effectively treated in the 1970s with the introduction of acyclovir, which is still the most commonly used treatment. Naturally occurring antimicrobial proteins and peptides have also been shown to possess antiviral activity against HSV. This review will focus on the anti-HSV activity of one such protein, lactoferrin, and a small peptide fragment from its N-terminal domain, lactoferricin. Both components have been shown to effectively block entry of HSV into the host cell. In addition to blocking HSV entry, the peptides appear to have immune stimulatory activity, although this is still somewhat controversial. Mode of action studies and knowledge about the anti-HSV activity of lactoferricin have also been successfully employed in the design of new, more specific HSV blockers.

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