Inhibition of HSV cell-to-cell spread by lactoferrin and lactoferricin

Antiviral Res. 2008 Sep;79(3):192-8. doi: 10.1016/j.antiviral.2008.03.004. Epub 2008 Apr 21.


The milk protein lactoferrin (Lf) has multiple functions, including immune stimulation and antiviral activity towards herpes simplex virus 1 and 2 (HSV-1 and HSV-2); antiviral activity has also been reported for the N-terminal pepsin-derived fragment lactoferricin (Lfcin). The anti-HSV mode of action of Lf and Lfcin is assumed to involve, in part, their interaction with the cell surface glycosaminoglycan heparan sulfate, thereby blocking of viral entry. In this study we investigated the ability of human and bovine Lf and Lfcin to inhibit viral cell-to-cell spread as well as the involvement of cell surface glycosaminoglycans during viral cell-to-cell spread. Lf and Lfcin from both human and bovine origin, inhibited cell-to-cell spread of both HSV-1 and HSV-2. Inhibition of cell-to-cell spread by bovine Lfcin involved cell surface chondroitin sulfate. Based on transmission electron microscopy studies, human Lfcin, like bovine Lfcin, was randomly distributed intracellularly, thus differences in their antiviral activity could not be explained by differences in their distribution. In contrast, the cellular localization of iron-saturated (holo)-Lf appeared to differ from that of apo-Lf, indicating that holo- and apo-Lf may exhibit different antiviral mechanisms.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antiviral Agents / analysis
  • Antiviral Agents / metabolism
  • Antiviral Agents / pharmacology*
  • Cattle
  • Cell Line
  • Heparitin Sulfate / metabolism
  • Herpes Simplex / drug therapy*
  • Humans
  • Lactoferrin / analysis
  • Lactoferrin / metabolism
  • Lactoferrin / pharmacology*
  • Simplexvirus / drug effects*
  • Simplexvirus / physiology*
  • Virus Internalization / drug effects


  • Antiviral Agents
  • lactoferricin B
  • Heparitin Sulfate
  • Lactoferrin