Influence of bovine lactoferrin on expression of presentation molecules on BCG-infected bone marrow derived macrophages

Biochimie. 2009 Jan;91(1):76-85. doi: 10.1016/j.biochi.2008.04.008. Epub 2008 Apr 27.


The current vaccine for tuberculosis (TB), caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MTB), is an attenuated strain of Mycobacterium bovis bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG). BCG has proven to be effective in children, however, efficacy wanes in adulthood. Lactoferrin, a natural protein with immunomodulatory properties, is a potential adjuvant candidate to enhance efficacy of BCG. These studies define bovine lactoferrin as an enhancer of the BCG vaccine, functioning in part by modulating macrophage ability to present antigen and stimulate T-cells. BCG-infected bone marrow derived macrophages (BMMs) cultured with bovine lactoferrin increased the number of MHC II(+) expressing cells. Addition of IFN-gamma and lactoferrin to BCG-infected BMMs enhanced MHC II expressiona dna increased the ratio of CD86/CD80. Lactoferrin treated BCG-infected BMMs were able to stimulate an increase in IFN-gamma production from presensitized CD3(+) splenocytes. Together, these results demonstrate that bovine lactoferrin is capable of modulating BCG-infected macrophages to enhance T-cell stimulation through increased surface expression of antigen presentation and co-stimulatory molecules, which potentially explains the observed in vivo bovine lactoferrin enhancement of BCG vaccine efficacy to protect against virulent MTB infection.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • B7-1 Antigen / metabolism
  • B7-2 Antigen / metabolism
  • Bone Marrow Cells / cytology*
  • CD40 Antigens / metabolism
  • Cattle
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Female
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Gene Expression / drug effects
  • Genes, MHC Class II / genetics
  • Lactoferrin / pharmacology*
  • Macrophages / cytology
  • Macrophages / drug effects*
  • Macrophages / metabolism
  • Macrophages / microbiology*
  • Mice
  • Mycobacterium bovis / pathogenicity*


  • B7-1 Antigen
  • B7-2 Antigen
  • CD40 Antigens
  • Lactoferrin