48x36 Poster Template - University of New Haven

Significant Antimicrobial Effect of Lactoferrin on Borrelia burgdorferi biofilm
Dylan Haenel, Eva Sapi Ph.D.
University of New Haven Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF)
The purpose of this research project is to find a safe and
effective antibacterial agent to combat Borrelia biofilm. The
compounds chosen to investigate antibacterial effects on
Borrelia biofilm were allicin and lactoferrin. Both allicin, a
compound found in garlic, and lactoferrin, a protein commonly
found in cow and human milk, were shown to have antimicrobial
effects against a wide range of bacteria and have been used in
the medical field to combat bacterial infections. Therefore, the
effectiveness of allicin and lactoferrin were tested against
Borrelia biofilm and compared to doxycycline, which is the
standard antibiotic for Lyme disease treatment.
Materials and Methods
Low passage isolates of B31 strain of Borrelia burgdorferi sensu
stricto were cultured in Barbour-Stoner-Kelly H (BSK-H)
complete medium supplemented with 6% rabbit serum. Serial
dilutions of Borrelia spirochetes were grown for 6-days in a 48well plate to initiate biofilm formation, followed by incubation
with a tetrazolium dye, MTT (2 mg/ml in PBS) for 4 hours at
32˚ C. After incubation, the pellet was resuspended in either 150
µL of isopropanol and incubated on a rotatory shaker for 15
minutes. Absorbance of the supernatant was read at 570 nm
using the Eon microplate spectrophotometer.
Borrelia biofilms were cultured as mentioned above and treated
for three consecutive days (72 hours) with varying
concentrations of antimicrobial agents such as allicin and
lactoferrin and biofilm viability of Borrelia biofilms was
determined using the MTT assay as described above.
As a positive control, 25 μg/ml of doxycycline (doxy), and as a
negative control, the appropriate volume of PBS buffer, were
used instead of antimicrobial agents. The two-sample paired ttest statistical analyses were performed using GraphPad Prism
6.00 for Mac (La Jolla, CA, USA).
Percentage of untreated control
Borrelia burgdorferi is the bacterium found in deer ticks which is
responsible for Lyme disease. Borrelia enter the blood stream
when a tick bites a human. Disease symptoms, including bull’s
eye rash, neurological complications, and arthritis, can take
weeks, or even years to appear. According to the Center of
Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 300,000 people
are diagnosed with Lyme disease annually in the United States.
Borrelia can take several forms: the spirochete, the cyst and the
biofilm form. Biofilms are structured communities, encircled by a
self-manufactured polymeric matrix to prevent Borrelia from
adverse environmental conditions. Biofilms make the treatment
of Borrelia extremely difficult as it can increase its resistance up
to 1000 times, as opposed to individual spirochetes. Our
research group has demonstrated that standard antibiotics
have a very limited effect on Borrelia biofilm.
Fig 1. Quantitative analysis of Borrelia burgdorferi biofilm treated for 72 hours with Lactoferrin. MTT assay was performed on biofilm of
Borrelia treated with different concentration of lactoferrin). Data was considered significant at p value<0.05. * indicates p value≤ 0.05
The first compound tested was allicin but it was concluded after
several MTT viability assays (Fig. 2) that allicin did not have a
significant effect on Borrelia biofilm at any concentration studied.
Then lactoferrin was chosen for the next round of tests. The
experimental design included samples with a row of blank media,
untreated Borrelia (negative control), doxycycline (positive control)
and lactoferrin in various concentrations. It was important to test
various concentrations to be able to determine what amount of the
antimicrobial compound efficient in effectively eliminating the
Borrelia biofilm. The concentrations tested were those used in
literature, which varied from 20 ug/mL to 80ug/mL. Lactoferrin, at a
concentration of 80 ug/mL, was the most effective and decreased
the viability of Borrelia biofilm by 15% compared to the untreated
sample. Comparing to positive control, lactoferrin was ~5% more
effective than doxycycline, which is a compound commonly used in
hospitals for treatment of Lyme disease.
Fig 2. Quantitative analysis of Borrelia burgdorferi biofilm treated
Interestingly, lactoferrin at lower concentrations, such as 20ug/mL
with different concentration of allicin using MTT viability assay.
Negative control was a sample treated with vehicle (PBS buffer) and and 40ug/mL, increased Borrelia biofilm viability compared to the
positive control had doxycycline (doxy) and Stevia, which was shown untreated control, however the effects were not significant.
by previous research to have a significant effect on Borrelia biofilm.
Data from this study showed that lactoferrin could have a
significant effect on the viability of Borrelia biofilm, while allicin did
not shown any potential effect.
The mechanism of the antimicrobial effect of lactoferrin has been
previously suggested to work by absorbing and therefore
sequestering iron, so bacteria cannot utilize it.
In a recent publication in Nature, lactoferrin was demonstrated to
significantly compromise the formation of biofilms of
Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Lactoferrin chelated iron, disallowing
Pseudomonas from taking up iron, causing “twitching, a
specialized form of surface motility.” This caused the bacteria “to
wander across the surface instead of forming cell clusters and
biofilms.”8 This movement through Pseudomonas generations
prevented organized biofilm structures to form so cells remained
in a thin layer and were later proven to lose the antimicrobial
resistance associated with organized biofilms. Borrelia, however,
utilizes magnesium for biological processes instead of iron, which
means that lactoferrin antibacterial effects on Borrelia biofilm must
have a different mechanism which needs to be further
investigated. Clinical studies with lactoferrin show no significant
side effects and is a readily found protein in cow and human milk.
Further research will be performed for my Honors Thesis where I
plan to utilize additional tests to study the effect of lactoferrin on
the different components of Borrelia biofilm, such as the protective
mucopolysaccharide and extracellular DNA layers to better
understand the mechanism of lactoferrin. Results from this
research provided promising data for a safe, affordable, and
highly effective approach to eliminate infections in Lyme disease.
1. Sapi, E. and MacDonald A. Biofilms of Borrelia burgdorferi in chronic
cutaneous borreliosis. Am J Clin Pathol 2008 in press.
2. Eisendle K, Grabner T and Zelger B. Focus Floating Microscopy “Gold
Standard” for Cutaneous Borreliosis? Am J Clin Pathol 2007; 127:213-222.
3. Jefferson, KK. What drives bacteria to form a biofilm? FEMS Microbiol Lett
2004, 52 (4): 917−24.
4.Phillips SE, Burrascano JJ, Harris NS, Johnson L, Smith PV, Stricker RB
(2005). Chronic infection in 'post-Lyme borreliosis syndrome'. Int J Epidemiol.
5.Brorson Ø, Brorson SH (1997). Transformation of cystic forms of Borrelia
burgdorferi to normal mobile spirochetes. Infection 25:240–246.
7.Brorson Ø, Brorson SH (2004). An in vitro study of the susceptibility of
mobile and cystic forms of Borrelia burgdorferi to tinidazole. Int Microbol
8. Pradeep K. Singh*, Matthew R. Parsek, E. Peter Greenberg,
Michael J. Welsh. A component of innate immunity
prevents bacterial biofilm development. Nature, 2002.
Special Thanks
• I thank the University of New Haven for providing me with the
opportunity to do research.
• I thank Dr. Eva Sapi for her guidance through this research.
• I thank Maria J. Victoria, Priyanka AS Theophilus, and the rest of the
UNH Lyme Disease research team for assisting me in this study.