The history of lysozyme

The antibacterial property of chicken egg white, which can be attributed to lysozyme, was first described by Lashchenko in 1909. However, the term "lysozyme" was not coined until 1922 by Alexander Fleming (1881-1955), who thus gave the enzyme a name. He observed the antibacterial effect of lysozyme in nasal secretions on the bacterium Micrococcus lysodeikticus.

The accidental discovery of lysozyme by Fleming

Wie viele großartige Entdeckungen begann die Entdeckung des Lysozyms mit einem Zufall und der scharfsinnigen Beobachtung Alexander Flemings. 1922 ging er wie immer seiner Arbeit als Arzt und Forscher im Saint Marys Hospital in London nach, als zwei Zufälle zusammentrafen.

Er hatte starken Schnupfen und außerdem vergessen, einen Bakteriennährboden in einer Petrischale zu entsorgen. In der Petrischale hatte sich eine gelbe Bakterienkolonie gebildet. Etwas Nasensekret fiel auf die Bakterienkolonie. Einige Zeit später beobachtete er, dass sich die Bakterien an der Stelle aufgelöst hatten, auf die das Nasensekret getropft war.

The first antibacterial substance had been found. It is an enzyme that can cleave the cell walls of bacteria. It was called lysozyme, (from lysis = to dissolve and zym, because it is an enzyme). Lysozyme has been found not only in nasal secretions but also in tear fluid. It is also found in milk, blood, leucocytes, sperm, breast milk and in particularly high concentrations in chicken egg white.

Fleming began to examine more closely the tear fluid that volunteers donated to him after they were stimulated to release tear fluid with a few squirts of citric acid. This in turn earned him a cartoon in the hospital newspaper. It showed children coming into Fleming's lab for a few pennies, where one attendant was giving them strokes and another was collecting the tears.

Fleming realised that lysozyme prevents microbes from entering the body.

The lysozyme acts even before the bacteria can enter the organism. Example: A permanent moistening of the eyes with tear fluid (contains muramidase), largely ensures that no bacteria penetrate via the mucous membranes in the eye area. Bacteria that are on the surface of the eye are immediately dissolved and decomposed by the lysozyme.

Skin protection

The physical barrier of healthy skin consists of the stratum corneum and, in the mucosa, the mucus layer. Desquamation and mucus secretion lead to the constant renewal of the surfaces and thus at the same time to the continuous removal of microorganisms that are located on the surfaces and want to penetrate. In addition, a distinct lipid barrier in the skin normally impedes and prevents the penetration of microorganisms into the living epidermis.

However, the formation of an intact physical barrier is not sufficient for a successful infection defence of the healthy skin and mucosa. Other factors must be added. These include the body's own antibiotics, the antimicrobial peptides, such as lysozyme.


We would like to point out that not all statements are accepted by orthodox medicine due to the lack of placebo-controlled clinical studies.