The measurement in vitro of lactenin, the antistreptococcal substance of milk, is affected by the size of the inoculum, the temperature of incubation, and the type of medium employed.
Hemolytic streptococci belonging to the several serological groups vary in susceptibility to lactenin. All group A streptococci, regardless of type, are highly sensitive to it, and milk receiving a small inoculum sterilizes itself within 48 hours or less. By contrast, most strains of groups B, C, D, and E, although they may temporarily be inhibited, ultimately achieve full growth. Strains belonging to groups F, G, H, K, and L vary in sensitivity, some being fully inhibited and others achieving full growth. When streaked on the surface of milk-agar plates and examined at the end of 24 hours the streptococci fall into two classes: sensitive strains which do not produce visible colonies on the plate, and resistant strains which grow excellently. Very few strains show an intermediate degree of sensitivity.
Human and goat milk contain an antistreptococcal principle which appears to be the same as the lactenin of cow milk, since streptococci which are inhibited by milk from one species are inhibited by milk from the others, and vice versa.