Lactoferrin is a naturally occurring protein that is found in milk and bodily fluids. It is a potent anti-microbial and modulator of the immune system. Several studies have shown that natural lactoferrin has many important roles.
1) Lactoferrin has Antioxidant Properties
Because iron can cause oxidative stress, lactoferrin can reduce oxidative stress by binding and removing iron, which prevents cell damage or cell death. Lactoferrin supplementation can support the immune system as an antioxidant.
2) Lactoferrin Modulates the Immune System
There are lactoferrin receptors on many immune cells, so lactoferrin directly affects how these cells function.
In infants lactoferrin is crucial to the development of natural immune system function to prevent infection.
In mice treated with chemotherapy, treatment with lactoferrin post chemotherapy accelerated the reconstitution of the immune system, reducing the chances for infection following chemotherapy treatment.
In mice suffering from colitis-associated colorectal dysplasia, treatment with lactoferrin reduced their overall deficiency and also reduced the symptoms and inflammation caused by the dysplasia.
3) Lactoferrin Protects Against Inflammation
Although the direct mechanism has not been established yet, lactoferrin is still shown to be effective in preventing inflammation in humans.
Lactoferrin has anti-inflammatory properties when interacting with the immune system against the Epstein-Barr virus, reducing inflammation by inhibiting the activation of TLR2 and TLR9 in the virus DNA.
Lactoferrin in the amniotic fluid is an important component to reducing fetal inflammation in pregnant women through reducing IL-6 levels and reducing infection causing the inflammation.
4) Lactoferrin Helps with Allergies and Asthma
Lactoferrin helps reduce airway inflammation in a mouse asthma model. Lactoferrin blocks histamine release from colon mast cel
5) Lactoferrin Helps with Bacterial Infections
Lactoferrin helps stop the activity of bacteria. Most bacteria need iron to function, and lactoferrin can stop bacteria from taking up iron in the human body.
In addition to this, it can block bacteria’s carbohydrate metabolism, destabilize their cell walls, or interact with lysozymes in milk to stop bacteria.
In animals with bacterial LPS toxicity, injecting them with lactoferrin reduces many symptoms of toxicity, and reduce risks of death from LPS toxicity by five-fold.
6) Lactoferrin Stops Viruses
In human cell cultures and patients, lactoferrin can also act as an antivirus by preventing viruses from entering human cells by blocking cellular receptors or directly binding to the viruses.
The bovine lactoferrin was more efficient than the human version in stopping the herpes virus in human cell culture. However, both types were able to stop the virus from entering the cells.
Lactoferrin was also effective in stopping the effects of HIV by blocking the entry process in vitro.
Human patients suffering from hepatitis C showed similar effects of lactoferrin preventing virus entry. It helped eradicate the hepatitis C virus from the patients’ bodies.
7) Lactoferrin is Antifungal
Both bovine (cow) and human lactoferrin stop the growth of fungi in human cell cultures. This suggests that this protein can be used in vivo to help prevent fungal growths in the human body.
8) Lactoferrin is Antiparasitic
In cows infected with a parasite, lactoferrin supplementation increases the immune system response to the parasite, helping to expel it from the body of the bovine.
Other Benefits of Lactoferrin:
9) Lactoferrin Helps Increase Iron Absorption
Lactoferrin intake by adults helps increase iron absorption in the intestine.
It is also responsible for the delivery of iron to cells, important for basic cell function.
In pregnant women, straight iron vitamins could be an unsafe supplement for the fetus. Lactoferrin proved to be a viable substitute to increasing iron levels while reducing side effects.
10) Lactoferrin Helps Fight Against Cancer
Bovine lactotransferrin decreases breast cancer cell viability and cell growth, and increased cell death in a cell study.It also stopped cancer cell growth during the cell cycle and disrupt the cancer cells’ membranes.
Humans suffering from lung cancer undergoing chemotherapy had increased immune system response after taking lactoferrin post-treatment
In rats, it also had the ability to restore white and red blood cell count after chemotherapy. In rats, supplementation of bovine lactoferrin interacted with phase 1 enzymes to reduce the carcinogenic effects of lung, bladder, tongue, colon, and liver cancer.
11) Lactoferrin may Reduce Insulin Resistance
There is a correlation between lactoferrin concentration in the blood and insulin sensitivity. In humans, lactotransferrin improved the insulin-signaling response and increased glucose absorption.
12) Lactoferrin Helps Brain Development
In piglets, lactoferrin helps improve cognition and brain development. They learned how to complete learning tasks more efficiently.
13) Lactoferrin Helps Clear Acne and Injured Skin
Human patients aged 18-30 were given milk with lactoferrin and their skin condition improved. They had less acne and skin inflammation compared to the placebo group. In adolescents, lactoferrin can improve acne conditions without serious drying out of the skin, or other side effects.
Psoriasis patients also benefited from topical application. The redness and size of their skin lesions lessened.
In diabetic human patients, topical applications of recombinant lactoferrin improved the healing of neuropathic foot ulcers better than a healing cream with no side effects.
Lactoferrin applied topically to patients suffering from psoriatic plaque buildup had reduced redness and scaling, but increased an immune response to the skin
14) Lactoferrin Might Have Anti-Obesity Effects
Obese Japanese men and women were given enteric-coated lactoferrin tablets for eight weeks. This reduced their fat mass and body weight. Their BMI also got smaller, as well as their waist circumference.
Lactoferrin can help control fat accumulation in humans. There is also some evidence that iron deficiency might be related to obesity, but more studies need to be done.
15) Lactoferrin Promotes Bone Health
In postmenopausal women, RNAse-enriched lactoferrin supplementation significantly improved their bone health. Bone formation increased and bone reabsorption decreased.
16) Lactoferrin Prevents Iron Deficiency in Pregnant Women
Pregnant women can develop iron deficiency, which can cause premature delivery. Pregnant women were given lactoferrin orally and it stabilized their iron levels. There were no adverse effects and the women also did not miscarry.
17) Lactoferrin Stops Dying Intestines in Premature Babies
Many preterm babies suffer from necrotizing enterocolitis, when the bacteria can cause inflammation in gut-related tissues and might destroy the intestinal walls and causing the intestinal cells to die. In infants, human and bovine lactotransferrin can kill bacteria in the intestines and help stop necrotizing enterocolitis. It can also block or prevent invasion of pathogens in the gut and help destroy pathogens.
18) Lactoferrin Can Help Treat Cystic Fibrosis
In human cells from cystic fibrosis patients, lactotransferrin can help prevent inflammation, breaks bacterial biofilm, and protect the cells from damage.
19) Lactoferrin Supports Fetal/Infant Development
Developing infants require lactoferrin to develop and adapt the intestinal system. It is responsible for differentiating small intestinal epithelial cells, affecting small intestinal mass, length, and enzyme expression.
In human fetuses, lactoferrin serves as a bone growth regulator in the early phases of human bone development.
Lactoferrin is in high concentrations in the developing salivary glands of human fetuses in order to increase their natural defense mechanisms.
In mice, lactoferrin is responsible for hormonal regulation and growth of developing uterine tissue and for the differentiation of the cells in neonatal mice.
20) Lactoferrin Supports Good Gut Bacteria
Lactoferrin has been shown to decrease the growth of E. coli and Salmonella, while promoting the growth of the beneficial Bifidobacteria.
The information in this article was taken from an article written by Joseph Cohen, CEO of SelfHacked.