Effects of human lactoferrin on the cytoplasmic membrane of Candida albicans cells related with its candidacidal activity

FEMS Immunol Med Microbiol. 2004 Oct 1;42(2):181-5. doi: 10.1016/j.femsim.2004.04.005.


Human lactoferrin is an innate host defence protein with antimicrobial activity that exerts a candidacidal effect in a cation concentration-dependent manner. We investigated the ability of this cationic protein (with an isoelectric point of 8.7) to permeabilize the cytoplasmic membrane of Candida albicans cells. Despite minor K(+)-release in lactoferrin-treated C. albicans cells, the killing effect was not related to an extensive membrane permeabilization, as indicated by: (a) the non-release of macromolecular cytosolic constituents; (b) the non-permeabilization for extracellular propidium iodide nor for intracellular accumulated calcein; and (c) the inability to disrupt the phospholipid bilayer of 8-aminonaphthalene-1,3,6, trisulfonic acid/p-xylene-bis-pyridiniumbromide-loaded liposomes. These results suggest that lactoferrin exerts its candidacidal effect through a mechanism different from membrane permeabilization described for other cationic peptides.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antifungal Agents / pharmacology*
  • Antimicrobial Cationic Peptides / pharmacology
  • Candida albicans / drug effects*
  • Cell Membrane / drug effects*
  • Cell Membrane / physiology
  • Cell Membrane Permeability / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Lactoferrin / physiology*
  • Microbial Sensitivity Tests / methods
  • Potassium / metabolism


  • Antifungal Agents
  • Antimicrobial Cationic Peptides
  • Lactoferrin
  • Potassium