An enzyme occurring naturally in egg white, human tears, saliva,
and other body fluids, capable of destroying the cell walls
of certain bacteria and thereby acting as a mild antiseptic.
Lysozyme protects us from the ever present danger of bacterial
infection. It is a small enzyme that attacks the protective
cell walls of bacteria.
Lysozyme acts as a natural preservative. Used to prevent spoilage
of food by inhibiting or preventing the growth of bacteria,
fungi and other microorganisms. It is mainly used in the cheese
industry in the maturation of European cheeses, by preventing
the growth of Clostridium tyrobutyricum spores which cause butyric
Bacteria build a tough skin of carbohydrate chains, interlocked
by short peptide strands, that braces their delicate membrane
against the cell's high osmotic pressure. Lysozyme breaks these
carbohydrate chains, destroying the structural integrity of
the cell wall. The bacteria then burst under their own internal
Alexander Fleming discovered lysozyme during a deliberate search
for medical antibiotics. Over a period of years, he added everything
that he could think of to bacterial cultures, looking for anything
that would slow their growth. He discovered lysozyme by chance.
One day, when he had a cold, he added a drop of mucus to the
culture and, much to his surprise, it killed the bacteria. He
had discovered one of our own natural defenses against infection.
Unfortunately, lysozyme is a large molecule that is not particularly
useful as a drug. It can be applied topically, but cannot rid
the entire body of disease, because it is too large to travel
between cells. Fortunately, Fleming continued his search, finding
a true antibiotic drug five years later: penicillin.
Hen egg white has a high content of lysozyme which protects
the integrity of the delicate yolk, thus making egg white (albumen),
the preferred raw material for industrial production of the
May be harmful by inhalation or ingestion, or act as an irritant.