Its Many Benefits To Human Healthy Living

Many milk powder manufacturers often advertise and emphasize lactoferrin as their main selling point. Why do they need to do this? There must be some great positive values of lactoferrin that they need to highlight in their advertisements.

What exactly is lactoferrin? Do you know much about it? What are its effects on the human body health? More importantly, what are its benefits for healthy living?

Also known as lactotransferrin, lactoferrin, an iron-binding glycoprotein that belongs to the transferrin family. It is a globular multifunctional protein with a number of physiological possible roles. Often referred to as an innate defense protein and frequently serves as the first line of defense in protection against pathogens particularly its antimicrobial (bacteriocide and fungicide) and immunomodulatory activities, lactoferrin is found in high levels in human and mammal milk and in many mucosal secretions such as tears, saliva, bile, pancreatic juice, genital and nasal secretions and in circulating neutrophils, lactoferrin is also present in secondary granules of polymorphonuclear (PMN) and is released in infected tissues and blood during the inflammatory process. In addition to its direct antimicrobial properties, the abilities of lactoferrin to regulate the immune response and to protect against infection and septic shock have been described in numerous in vitro and in vivo studies. Although the cellular and molecular mechanisms that account for the modulation of the inflammatory and immune responses by lactoferrin are not yet totally elucidated, many are now established. At the cellular level, lactoferrin modulates the migration, maturation and function of immune cells. At the molecular level and in addition to iron binding, interactions of lactoferrin with a plethora of compounds, either soluble or membrane molecules, account for its modulatory properties. Also secreted by some acinar cells, it can be purified from milk or produced recombinantly. Human colostrum has the highest concentration, followed by human milk and then cow milk. Understanding of its cellular and molecular mechanisms that explain the regulatory properties of lactoferrin in host defense is important.

Specifically other mammals, particularly cows, produce high levels of lactoferrin in their milk, exocrine secretions and the granules of circulating neutrophils which maintains many of the functions it does in humans. This fact which is of great use to humans enables bovine lactoferrin be isolated from cow’s milk to be a component of whey protein. Lactoferrin is relatively resistant against proteolysis (the directed digestion of proteins by cellular enzymes or by intramolecular digestion) and consists of a single-chain polypeptide with two globular lobes. The complete cDNAs for lactoferrin from human milk, neutrophils and bovine milk have been reported, and recombinant proteins have been produced. Largely due to high production costs, there are no human lactoferrin products on the market, though several are in development. The health care market for bovine lactoferrin for dietary supplements, the immune system, oral health and infant formula, is large.

Lactoferrin acts as a modulator of immune and inflammatory responses and has various effects on the immune system such as regulation of antibody production, complement activation and NK cell function. However not much is known how it carries out these activities. The biological role of lactoferrin thus remains an enigma.

Its other functions include promoting bone growth and formation. At physiological concentrations, lactoferrin potently stimulates the proliferation and differentiation of primary osteoblasts (mononucleate cell that is responsible for bone formation) and also acts as a survival factor inhibiting apoptosis (a form of programmed cell death in multicellular organisms) induced by serum withdrawal. Lactoferrin also affects osteoclast (a type of bone cell that removes bone tissue) formation and potently inhibits osteoclastogenesis. Considerable research is continuously being conducted to provide more details on the biological functions of the protein.

Other benefits of lactoferrin includes its role in managing the following several diseases and conditions:-

various types of cancers;
cystic fibrosis;
lung infections;
gastrointestinal disorders;
diseases involving inflammation;
health issues involving bacterial, fungal and viral pathogens; and
infant human nutrition

There is an extensive library of literature that supports the safety of lactoferrin in human and cow’s milk. Bovine lactoferrin has been determined to be “Generally Recognized As Safe” by the United States Food and Drug Administration for use as an ingredient in sports drinks and functional foods. Human infants had been consuming significant quantities of human lactoferrin without much problems and this proves lactoferrin is safe for healthy living.