2008 Volume 51 Issue 3 Pages 281-291
Lactoferrin (LF) is an iron-binding protein that is present in milk, and has a number of biological functions, including antimicrobial effects. In the present study, we evaluated the clinical, bacteriological, and biochemical changes that occur as a result of oral administration of bovine lactoferrin (bLF)-containing tablets, which were supplied by Morinaga Milk Industry, in periodontitis patients. After informed consent was obtained, 18 patients with mild chronic periodontitis were randomly selected for oral administration of tablets containing bLF (test group, 8 patients), or placebo tablets (control group, 10 patients). Oral administration of the two tablets was done three times a day for 3 months in a double-blind condition. The following measurements were recorded before and 1 week, 1 month and 3 months after the start of administration : 1) clinical periodontal conditions; 2) number of total bacteria, Porphyromonas gingivalis, and Prevotella intermedia in the subgingival plaque and saliva, as assessed by a quantitative polymerase chain reaction; 3) levels of human LF (hLF) and bLF in the gingival crevicular fluid (GCF) and saliva, as determined by a sandwich enzyme-linked immunsorbent assay; and 4) levels of endotoxin in GCF and saliva, as determined by a Limulus test. Differences in clinical, bacteriological, and biochemical changes between the two groups were assessed by the Mann-Whitney U test. No adverse effects were observed throughout the study period. In the test group, a significant reduction was seen in changes in the number of total bacteria (after 1 month), P. gingivalis (after 1 and 3 months), and P. intermedia (after 1 week) in the subgingival plaque, as compared to the control group. We also found a significant difference in GCF and saliva levels of bLF, but not in clinical measurements, saliva levels of bacteria, nor GCF and saliva levels of hLF and endotoxin between the two groups. Furthermore, a trend toward a reduction in GCF levels of hLF was observed in test group. This is the first report showing the antibacterial effects of orally administered bLF on subgingival flora in periodontitis patients, which might be partly supported by the relatively sufficient GCF levels of bLF. These results suggest that the antibacterial and food-component properties of oral bLF may contribute to the promotion of periodontal health.