Passive immunisation, based on bovine colostral preparations, is an area of active research. Specific bovine antibodies inhibit the virulence factors of target pathogens but the interactions between whey preparations and human immune defence cells are not well known. Bovine colostrum inhibits the phagocytic activity of bovine leucocytes and this may reflect the biological activity of immunoglobulins in it. Therefore, this study aimed to examine the effects of bovine whey protein preparations from the colostrum of -immunised and sham-immunised cows on binding, ingestion and killing of these bacteria by human leucocytes. Binding and ingestion of FITC-labelled bacteria were estimated by flow cytometry and leukocyte activation was measured as chemiluminescence. Killing rate was estimated by plate counting and by measuring bioluminescence from containing the insect luciferase gene. Colostral whey protein preparation from hyperimmunised cows activated human leucocytes by opsonising specific bacteria. Neutrophils, eosinophils and monocytes weakly phagocytosed non-opsonised bacteria and bacteria opsonised with control product. On the contrary, binding and ingestion were efficient in the presence of the preparation from immunised cows. Thus, these results show that bovine colostral whey proteins are able to support the activation of human phagocytes against pathogenic microbes and that this property is related to specific antibodies in whey preparations. These whey proteins may also be clinically useful, especially in preventing the colonisation of newly erupted teeth by mutans streptococci.


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