Dietary bovine Lactoferrin reduces Staphylococcus aureus in the tissues and modulates the immune response in piglets systemically infected with S. aureus

Elizabeth A. Reznikov, Sarah S. Comstock, Jennifer L. Hoeflinger, Mei Wang, Michael J. Miller, Sharon M. Donovan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Bovine lactoferrin (bLf) reduces Staphylococcus aureus infection in premature infants and promotes the growth of Bifidobacterium infantis, a predominant infant gut species. We hypothesized that bLf in combination with B. infantis would reduce the severity of systemic S. aureus infection. Objective: The aim was to determine the effects of oral administration of bLf and B. infantis on the course of systemic S. aureus infection. Methods: Colostrum-deprived piglets were fed formulas containing 4 g whey/L (CON group) or bLf (LF group). One-half of the piglets in each group were gavaged with B. infantis (109 colony-forming units/d), resulting in 2 additional groups (BI or COMB, respectively). On day 7, piglets were intravenously injected with S. aureus. Blood samples were collected preinfection and every 12 h postinfection for immune analyses. Tissue samples were collected on day 12 for analysis of bacterial abundance and gene expression. Results: Preinfection, LF piglets had lower serum interleukin 10 (IL-10), a higher percentage of lymphocytes, and a lower percentage of neutrophils than BI or COMB piglets. After infection, dietary bLf increased piglet weight gain, reduced staphylococcal counts in the kidneys, and tended to lower staphylococcal counts in the lungs and heart. Dietary bLf also decreased kidney IL-10 and increased lung interferon γ (IFN-γ) mRNA. B. infantis increased splenic IFN-γ expression. Renal Toll-like receptor 2 was upregulated in BI piglets but not in COMB piglets. Postinfection, BI piglets had increased serum IL-10 and decreased memory T cell populations. LF and COMB piglets had fewer circulating monocytes and B cells than CON or BI piglets. Conclusions: Dietary bLf and B. infantis produced independent and tissue-specific effects. Piglets fed bLf alone or in combination with B. infantis mounted a more effective immune response and exhibited lower bacterial abundance. This study provides biological underpinnings to the clinical benefits of bLf observed in preterm infants but does not support B. infantis administration during S. aureus infection.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbernzy001
JournalCurrent Developments in Nutrition
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2018


  • Immune system
  • Infection
  • Lactoferrin
  • Neonate
  • Probiotic
  • Sepsis
  • Staphylococcus aureus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Food Science
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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