Antiviral effects of plasma and milk proteins: lactoferrin shows potent activity against both human immunodeficiency virus and human cytomegalovirus replication in vitro

J Infect Dis. 1995 Aug;172(2):380-8. doi: 10.1093/infdis/172.2.380.


Native and chemically derivatized proteins purified from serum and milk were assayed in vitro to assess their inhibiting capacity on the cytopathic effect of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-1 and human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) on MT4 cells and fibroblasts, respectively. Only native and conformationally intact lactoferrin from bovine or human milk, colostrum, or serum could completely block HCMV infection (IC50 = 35-100 micrograms/mL). Moreover, native lactoferrin also inhibited the HIV-1-induced cytopathic effect (IC50 = 40 micrograms/mL). When negatively charged groups were added to lactoferrin by succinylation, there was a 4-fold stronger antiviral effect on HIV-1, but the antiviral potency for HCMV infection was mostly decreased. Lactoferrin likely exerts its effect at the level of virus adsorption or penetration (or both), because after HCMV penetrated fibroblasts, the ongoing infection could not be further inhibited.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antiviral Agents / pharmacology*
  • Blood Proteins / pharmacology*
  • Cattle
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Cytomegalovirus / drug effects*
  • Cytopathogenic Effect, Viral
  • DNA Replication / drug effects
  • Embryo, Mammalian
  • Female
  • Fibroblasts
  • Glycoproteins / pharmacology
  • HIV-1 / drug effects*
  • Humans
  • Lactoferrin / pharmacology*
  • Lung / drug effects
  • Lung / pathology
  • Lung / virology
  • Milk Proteins / pharmacology*
  • Pregnancy
  • Virus Replication / drug effects


  • Antiviral Agents
  • Blood Proteins
  • Glycoproteins
  • Milk Proteins
  • Lactoferrin