Effect of the vitamin B12-binding protein haptocorrin present in human milk on a panel of commensal and pathogenic bacteria

Henrik Munch Roager, Martin Frederik Laursen, Dorte L. Lildballe, Jens Bo Andersen, Ebba Nexø, Tine Rask Licht

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearch

485 Downloads (Pure)


Background: Haptocorrin is a vitamin B12-binding protein present in high amounts in different body fluids including human milk. Haptocorrin has previously been shown to inhibit the growth of specific E. coli strains, and the aim of the present study was to elucidate whether the antibacterial properties of this protein may exert a general defense against pathogens and/or affect the composition of the developing microbiota in the gastrointestinal tracts of breastfed infants. Findings: The present work was the first systematic study of the effect of haptocorrin on bacterial growth, and included 34 commensal and pathogenic bacteria to which infants are likely to be exposed. Well-diffusion assays addressing antibacterial effects were performed with human milk, haptocorrin-free human milk, porcine holo-haptocorrin (saturated with B-12) and human apo-haptocorrin (unsaturated). Human milk inhibited the growth of S. thermophilus and the pathogenic strains L. monocytogenes LO28, L. monocytogenes 4446 and L. monocytogenes 7291, but the inhibition could not be ascribed to haptocorrin. Human apo-haptocorrin inhibited the growth of only a single bacterial strain (Bifidobacterium breve), while porcine holo-haptocorrin did not show any inhibitory effect. Conclusions: Our results suggest that haptocorrin does not have a general antibacterial activity, and thereby contradict the existing hypothesis implicating such an effect. The study contributes to the knowledge on the potential impact of breastfeeding on the establishment of a healthy microbiota in infants.
Original languageEnglish
JournalBMC Research Notes
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)208
Number of pages6
Publication statusPublished - 2011

Bibliographical note

This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Dive into the research topics of 'Effect of the vitamin B12-binding protein haptocorrin present in human milk on a panel of commensal and pathogenic bacteria'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this