Apolactoferrin, Bovine Lactoferrin, Human Lactoferrin, Lactoferrina, Lactoferrine, Lactoferrine Bovine, Lactoferrine Humaine, Lactoferrine Humaine Recombinante, Lactoferrines, Lactoferrins, Recombinant Human Lactoferrin.
Lactoferrin is a protein found in cow milk and human milk. Colostrum, the first milk produced after a baby is born, contains high levels of lactoferrin, about seven times the amount found in milk produced later on. Lactoferrin is also found in fluids in the eye, nose, respiratory tract, intestine, and elsewhere. People use lactoferrin as medicine.
Some people worry about getting “mad cow disease” from medicinal lactoferrin taken from cows, but this risk is generally considered very small. Additionally, most medicinal human lactoferrin is taken from specially engineered rice.
Lactoferrin is used for treating stomach and intestinal ulcers, diarrhea, and hepatitis C. It is also used as an antioxidant and to protect against bacterial and viral infections. Other uses include stimulating the immune system, preventing tissue damage related to aging, promoting healthy intestinal bacteria, preventing cancer, and regulating the way the body processes iron.
In industrial agriculture, lactoferrin is used to kill bacteria during meat processing.
How does it work?
Lactoferrin helps regulate the absorption of iron in the intestine and delivery of iron to the cells.
It also seems to protect against bacterial infection, possibly by preventing the growth of bacteria by depriving them of essential nutrients or by killing bacteria by destroying their cell walls. The lactoferrin contained in mother's milk is credited with helping to protect breast-fed infants against bacterial infections.
In addition to bacterial infections, lactoferrin seems to be active against infections causes by some viruses and fungi.
Lactoferrin also seems to be involved with regulation of bone marrow function (myelopoiesis), and it seems to be able to boost the body's defense (immune) system.
Possibly Effective for...
- Hepatitis C. Some patients with hepatitis C seem to respond to lactoferrin taken from cows. Doses of 1.8 or 3.6 grams/day of lactoferrin are needed. Lower doses don't seem to work.
Insufficient Evidence to Rate Effectiveness for...
- Helicobacter pylori infection (an ulcer-causing bacterial infection). There is conflicting research about the effectiveness of adding lactoferrin from cows (bovine lactoferrin) to standard ulcer treatments. Some studies show bovine lactoferrin improves the effectiveness of some prescription medications. Other studies show no benefit. However, studies do agree that treating Helicobacter pylori infection with bovine lactoferrin alone isn't effective, even at high doses.
- Stimulating the immune system.
- Preventing damage related to aging.
- Promoting healthy bacteria in the intestine.
- Regulating iron metabolism.
- Fighting bacteria and viruses (antibacterial and antiviral agent).
- Use as an antioxidant.
- Other conditions.
Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate (detailed description of each of the ratings).
Lactoferrin is safe in amounts consumed in food. Consuming higher amounts of lactoferrin from cow's milk might also be safe for up to a year. Human lactoferrin that is made from specially processed rice appears to be safe for up to 14 days. Lactoferrin can cause diarrhea. In very high doses, skin rash, loss of appetite, fatigue, chills, and constipation have been reported.
The following doses have been studied in scientific research:
- For treating hepatitis C: 1.8 to 3.6 grams of lactoferrin from cows (bovine lactoferrin) per day.
Bellamy W, Takase M, Wakabayashi H, et al. Antibacterial spectrum of lactoferricin B, a potent bactericidal peptide derived from the N-terminal region of bovine lactoferrin. J Appl Bacteriol 1992;73:472-9. View abstract.
Bethell DR, Huang J. Recombinant human lactoferrin treatment for global health issues: iron deficiency and acute diarrhea. Biometals 2004;17:337-42. View abstract.
Conneely OM. Antiinflammatory activities of lactoferrin.J Am Coll Nutr 2001;20:389S-395S. View abstract.
Defer MC, Dugas B, Picard O, Damais C. Impairment of circulating lactoferrin in HIV-1 infection. Cell Mol Biol (Noisy-le-grand) 1995;41:417-21. View abstract.
Di Mario F, Aragona G, Bo ND, et al. Use of lactoferrin for Helicobacter pylori eradication. Preliminary results. J Clin Gastroenterol 2003;36:396-8. View abstract.
Di Mario F, Aragona G, Dal Bo N, et al. Use of bovine lactoferrin for Helicobacter pylori eradication.Dig Liver Dis 2003;35:706-10. . View abstract.
Dial EJ, Hall LR, Serna H, et al. Antibiotic properties of bovine lactoferrin on Helicobacter pylori. Dig Dis Sci 1998;43:2750-6. View abstract.
Drobni P, Naslund J, Evander M. Lactoferrin inhibits human papillomavirus binding and uptake in vitro. Antiviral Res 2004;64:63-8. View abstract.
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Guttner Y, Windsor HM, Viiala CH, Marshall BJ. Human recombinant lactoferrin is ineffective in the treatment of human Helicobacter pylori infection. Aliment Pharmacol Ther 2003;17:125-9. View abstract.
Harmsen MC, Swart PJ, de Bethune MP, et al. Antiviral effects of plasma and milk proteins: lactoferrin shows potent activity against both human immunodeficiency virus and human cytomegalovirus replication in vitro. J Infect Dis 1995;172:380-8. View abstract.
Hirashima N, Orito E, Ohba K, et al. A randomized controlled trial of consensus interferon with or without lactoferrin for chronic hepatitis C patients with genotype 1b and high viral load. Hepatol Res 2004;29:9-12. View abstract.
Ishibashi Y, Takeda K, Tsukidate N, et al. Randomized placebo-controlled trial of interferon alpha-2b plus ribavirin with and without lactoferrin for chronic hepatitis C. Hepatol Res 2005;32:218-23. View abstract.
Ishii K, Takamura N, Shinohara M, et al. Long-term follow-up of chronic hepatitis C patients treated with oral lactoferrin for 12 months. Hepatol Res 2003;25:226-233. View abstract.
Iwasa M, Kaito M, Ikoma J, et al. Lactoferrin inhibits hepatitis C virus viremia in chronic hepatitis C patients with high viral loads and HCV genotype 1b. Am J Gastroenterol 2002;97:766-7.
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Pacora P, Maymon E, Gervasi MT, et al. Lactoferrin in intrauterine infection, human parturition, and rupture of fetal membranes. Am J Obstet Gynecol 2000;183:904-10. View abstract.
Puddu P, Borghi P, Gessani S, et al. Antiviral effect of bovine lactoferrin saturated with metal ions on early steps of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 infection. Int J Biochem Cell Biol 1998;30:1055-62. View abstract.
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Troost FJ, Saris WH, Brummer RJ. Orally ingested human lactoferrin is digested and secreted in the upper gastrointestinal tract in vivo in women with ileostomies. J Nutr 2002;132:2597-600. View abstract.
Troost FJ, Saris WH, Brummer RJ. Recombinant human lactoferrin ingestion attenuates indomethacin-induced enteropathy in vivo in healthy volunteers. Eur J Clin Nutr 2003;57:1579-85. View abstract.
Valenti P, Berlutti F, Conte MP, et al. Lactoferrin functions: current status and perspectives. J Clin Gastroenterol 2004;38:S127-9. View abstract.
van't Land B, van Beek NM, van den Berg JJ, M'Rabet L. Lactoferrin reduces methotrexate-induced small intestinal damage, possibly through inhibition of GLP-2-mediated epithelial cell proliferation. Dig Dis Sci 2004;49:425-33. . View abstract.
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Vorland LH, Ulvatne H, Andersen J, et al. Lactoferricin of bovine origin is more active than lactoferricins of human, murine and caprine origin. Scand J Infect Dis 1998;30:513-7. View abstract.
Yamauchi K, Wakabayashi H, Hashimoto S, et al. Effects of orally administered bovine lactoferrin on the immune system of healthy volunteers. Adv Exp Med Biol 1998;443:261-5. View abstract.
Zhang GH, Mann DM, Tsai CM. Neutralization of endotoxin in vitro and in vivo by a human lactoferrin-derived peptide. Infect Immun 1999;67:1353-8. View abstract.
Zimecki M, Wlaszczyk A, Cheneau P, et al. Immunoregulatory effects of a nutritional preparation containing bovine lactoferrin taken orally by healthy individuals. Arch Immunol Ther Exp (Warsz) 1998;46:231-40.. View abstract.
Zullo A, De Francesco V, Scaccianoce G, et al. Quadruple therapy with lactoferrin for Helicobacter pylori eradication: A randomised, multicentre study. Dig Liver Dis 2005;37:496-500. View abstract.