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Prebiotic effects of bovine lactoferrin on specific probiotic bacteria


Bovine lactoferrin (bLf) is a natural iron-binding protein and it has been suggested to be a prebiotic agent, but this finding remains inconclusive. This study explores the prebiotic potential of bLf in 14 probiotics. Initially, bLf (1–32 mg/mL) treatment showed occasional and slight prebiotic activity in several probiotics only during the late experimental period (48, 78 h) at 37 °C. We subsequently supposed that bLf exerts stronger prebiotic effects when probiotic growth has been temperately retarded. Therefore, we incubated the probiotics at different temperatures, namely 37 °C, 28 °C, room temperature (approximately 22–24 °C), and 22 °C, to retard or inhibit their growth. As expected, bLf showed more favorable prebiotic activity in several probiotics when their growth was partially retarded at room temperature. Furthermore, at 22 °C, the growth of Bifidobacterium breve, Lactobacillus coryniformis, L. delbrueckii, L. acidophilus, B. angulatum, B. catenulatum, and L. paraplantarum were completely blocked. Notably, these probiotics started regrowing in the presence of bLf (1–32 mg/mL) in a significant and dose-dependent manner. Accordingly, bLf significantly increased the growth of Pediococcus pentosaceus, L. rhamnosus, and L. paracasei (BCRC 17483; a locally isolated strain) when their growth was retarded by incubation at 22 °C. In conclusion, bLf showed inconsistent prebiotic activity in the 14 probiotics at 37 °C, but revealed strong prebiotic activity in 10 probiotic strains at 22 °C. Therefore, this study enables determining additional roles of Lf in probiotic strains, which can facilitate developing novel combinational approaches by simultaneously using Lf and specific probiotics.

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This study was supported by a Grant from the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST 103-2320-B-562-001-MY3) and partially supported by Grants from St. Mary’s Hospital, Luodong (SMHRF-103001 and SMHRF-104003).

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Correspondence to Po-Wen Chen.

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Chen, PW., Liu, ZS., Kuo, TC. et al. Prebiotic effects of bovine lactoferrin on specific probiotic bacteria. Biometals 30, 237–248 (2017).

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