Lactoferrin: The Amazing Peptide That Fights Disease! Part 2

Cont from Part 1.

Anti-microbial effects

Probably lactoferrin’s best known role is as an iron binding protein. It’s referred to as hololactoferrin in its iron bound form and apolactoferrin in its iron depleted form. Studies have found it’s the apolactoferrin form that has the most powerful effects as an anti-microbial agent. Directly related to lactoferrin’s previously mentioned ability to suppress certain health degrading bacteria in the intestine, lactoferrin is a powerful anti-microbial that inhibits a wide range of pathogenic bacteria and other microbes. The mechanism appears to lie with lactoferrin’s ability to bind iron, as it is known to have an extremely high affinity for this metal. Many pathogenic bacteria need a supply of free iron to multiply-in the presence of lactoferrin, they are strongly inhibited or killed.

Extensive in-vitro (test tube) and in-vivo research with animals has shown lactoferrin to be a powerful anti-cancer agent.

One study looked at lactoferrin as a “natural antibiotic” and found that lactoferrin both in-vitro and in-vivo strongly inhibited the toxic bacteria helicobacter pylori. They stated “It is concluded that bovine (cows) lactoferrin has significant antimicrobial activity against helicobacter species in-vitro and in-vivo.”(16) Another study using both in-vitro and in-vivo methods added lactoferrin to the drinking water of mice and subjected them to the toxic microbe staphylococcal. The study found that the mice getting the lactoferrin as 2% of calories reduced kidney infections by 40% to 60% and reduced bacterial counts 5- to 12-fold. They concluded “the results suggest a potential for the use of lactoferrin as natural anti-bacterial proteins for preventing bacterial infections.”(17) Interestingly, some studies have found lactoferrin from cows to be more effective than lactoferrin from humans for anti-bacterial properties(18) (though it’s well established that human mothers milk confers a great deal of protection to the newborn due to many factors, including a high lactoferrin content). Several studies have found lactoferrin to inhibit a wide range of gram positive and gram negative bacteria, yeasts and even certain intestinal parasites. Cholera, escherichia coli, shigella flexneri, staphylococcus epidermidis, pseudomonas aeruginosa, candida albicans and others have all been found to be strongly or partially inhibited in the presence of lactoferrin.(19,20) (It should be noted not every microbe that is pathogenic to humans is suppressed by lactoferrin).

Maybe most promising and interesting, there is research that points to lactoferrin being able to improve the efficiency of antibiotic treatments in the fight against pathogenic microbes. Considering the out of control use of antibiotics and the rise in antibiotic resistant strains of “bad bugs,” this is very good news. Would the combination of lactoferrin and antibiotics be the knockout punch to certain bacteria that are not being killed by antibiotic treatments alone? More research is needed, but the evidence is very compelling.

Lactoferrin as an antioxidant

Finally, lactoferrin is an antioxidant that scavenges free iron, helping to prevent uncontrolled iron based free radical reactions, thus protecting certain cells from peroxidation. Though lactoferrin is both an iron scavenger and donor (depending on the cellular environment), it has been found to scavenge or donate iron at the appropriate times when the body is in need of the reaction. At normal physiological PH, lactoferrin binds iron tightly thus diminishing oxidative stress to tissues (from free radical production of iron). As would be expected, apolactoferrin, but not hololactoferrin, has been shown to prevent lipid peroxidation. However, there are times in fact when iron is needed as part of a controlled oxygen radical generating system by certain immune cells to kill microorganisms. Lactoferrin has been found to be an iron donor to this system under reduced PH conditions.

Several studies suggest lactoferrin reduces oxidative stress. Diseases such as cancer, heart diseases and AIDS are all closely related to oxidative stress either as a causative factor or as a factor in progression of the disease. One study that examined the role of whey proteins, multifermented whey proteins and lactoferrin in oxidative stress made the bold statement, “We can conclude that whey protein, lactoferrin and multifermented whey are good candidates as dietary inhibitors of oxidative stress and should be considered as potential medicinal foods in various pathologies as HIV infection and cancer.”(21) We couldn’t have said it better ourselves!

Conclusion

There is little doubt that lactoferrin is a major find and a potential breakthrough as a natural nontoxic treatment in an array of human ailments. Though a handful of companies are able to produce lactoferrin at this time, there is only one company producing the apolactoferrin (iron depleted) form in large quantity. Studies suggest that the superior form to supplement with is apolactoferrin.

Many article like this: no hype and science based, with the facts on human health, fitness, and weight loss:

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Cites:

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13. Ushida Y, Sekine K, Kuhara T, Takasuka N, Iigo M, Tsuda H. Inhibitory effects of bovine lactoferrin on intestinal polyposis in the Apc(Min) mouse. Cancer Lett 1998 Dec 25;134(2):141-5.

14. Yoo YC, Watanabe S, Watanabe R, Hata K, Shimazaki K, Azuma I. Bovine lactoferrin and lactoferricin, a peptide derived from bovine lactoferrin, inhibit tumor metastasis in mice. Jpn J Cancer Res 1997 Feb;88(2):184-90.

15. Sakamoto N. Antitumor effect of human lactoferrin against newly established human pancreatic cancer cell line SPA. Gan To Kagaku Ryoho 1998 Aug;25(10):1557-63.

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17. Bhimani RS, Vendrov Y, Furmanski P. Influence of lactoferrin feeding and injection against systemic staphylococcal infections in mice. J Appl Microbiol 1999 Jan;86(1):135-44.

18. Vorland LH, Ulvatne H, Andersen J, Haukland H, Rekdal O, Svendsen JS, Gutteberg TJ. Lactoferricin of bovine origin is more active than lactoferricins of human, murine and caprine origin. Scand J Infect Dis 1998;30(5):513-7.

19. Percival M. Intestinal Health. Clin. Nutri. Insights. 1997, Vol 5. No 5, 1-6.

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21. Stella V, Postaire E. Evaluation of the antiradical protector effect of multifermented milk serum with reiterated dosage in rats. C R Seances Soc Biol Fil 1995;189(6):1191-7.

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