Neonatal small bowel epithelia: enhancing anti-bacterial defense with lactoferrin and Lactobacillus GG

Infection is responsible for almost half of deaths in neonatal intensive care units. Infants born premature are at a higher risk of small bowel infection. This study aimed to determine if colonizing the immature small intestine with Lactobacillus GG and the  use of lactoferrin to promote the growth of LGG would prevent enteroinvasive E Coli (EIEC) infection in rat pups. 
The newborn rats were treated with either nothing, LGG, or lactoferrin and LGG on days 3 and 4. Jejunal and ileal fluid was lavaged to quantify gut colonization by LGG on day 5. Similarly treated newborn pups were infected with E Coli (1012 CFU/kg) on day 4, and its numbers were measured 16 hrs later. The results showed that LGG and recombinant human lactoferrin can prevent EIEC invasion in the small intestine of newborn rat pups, thus may reduce necrotizing enterocolitis and sepsis in preterm human neonates. 
It was suggested that lactoferrin may act as a bacteriostatic agent, preventing the replication and growth of E Coli in the developing intestine due to its ability to sequester iron, which the bacteria needs.

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Reference
Sherman, M.P., et al., Neonatal small bowel epithelia: enhancing anti-bacterial defense with lactoferrin and Lactobacillus GG. Biometals, 2004. 17(3): p. 285-9.

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