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Infect Immun. 1980 Jun;28(3):893-8.

Bactericidal activity of human lactoferrin: sensitivity of a variety of microorganisms.


Lactoferrin is an iron-binding protein that has been detected in secretions that bathe human mucosal tissues. Previous studies have shown that, when this protein is in the iron-free state, it is capable of a direct bactericidal effect on Streptococcus mutans and Vibrio cholerae. The present study demonstrates variable susceptibilities for a variety of different microorganisms. The list of susceptible organisms includes gram-positive and gram-negative microbes, rods and cocci, facultative anaerobes, and aerotolerant anaerobes. Similar morphological and physiological types are represented among the lalctoferrin-resistant bacteria. S. mutans was more resistant to lactoferrin when grown on a sucrose-contaning medium than when it was grown on brain heart infusion broth without added scurose. When a lactoferrin-sensitive, avirulent strain of Streptococcus pneumoniae was passed through mice, the resultant virulent culture became lactoferrin resistant. Since organisms of the same species and even of the same strain (S. pneumoniae) can differ in susceptibility to lactoferrin, it appears that accessibility to the lactoferrin target site may account for differences in susceptibility. It appears that there may be a relation between virulence and resistance to lactoferrin.

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