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Infect Immun. 1981 May;32(2):655-60.

Bactericidal activity of human lactoferrin: influence of physical conditions and metabolic state of the target microorganism.


Lactoferrin is an iron-binding protein that is bactericidal against Streptococcus mutans and several other microorganisms. In this study, the influence of several physical conditions as well as the metabolic state of S. mutans on lactoferrin susceptibility were investigated. After exposure to lactoferrin, a 15-min lag period occurred before the initiation of killing, indicating that a two-step process is involved in lactoferrin killing. Cultures harvested during the early exponential phase were very sensitive to lactoferrin, whereas cultures harvested in the early stationary phase were markedly more resistant. The rate of killing was dependent on temperature; there was no loss of viability at 2 degrees C. Killing occurred at pH 5.0 to 6.0 in water and 20 mM glycine, but did not occur at any pH in 50 mM sodium phosphate or N-2-hydroxyethylpiperazine-N'-2-ethanesulfonic acid (HEPES) buffer. Addition of exogenous ferrous or ferric ions did not reverse or prevent lactoferrin killing, nor did addition of 1 mM magnesium chloride.

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