Forschungs- & Entwicklungsinformationsdienst der Gemeinschaft - CORDIS

Bovine lactoferrin in human nutrition

Lactoferrin (LF) is a metalloprotein (ie a protein containing a metal such as iron or manganese) found in milk which is reported as having many beneficial biological properties contributing to the immune response. The project studies LF in relation to its effect on monocytes involved in the pathogenesis of asthma and lung cancer, and also on LF as a preventive agent against bacterial infection. The production of adhesion molecules by tumour cells may be due to their interaction with defensive cells; the adhesion molecules are not released but remain attached to the tumour cells thereby enabling the cells to attach themselves to other cells in the body. However, the over-production of adhesion molecules in inflammatory diseases such as asthma plays a crucial role in the development of inflammation by increasing the recruitment of inflammatory cells and their subsequent activation. Results from this project suggest that LF may play an important role in both cancer and inflammatory (eg asthma) disease. In the case of the former, LF may increase the susceptibility of tumour cells to the `toxic' effects of defensive cells, and in the latter may inhibit cell-cell and cell matrix interactions which play a critical role in the development of airways inflammation. Tests on the bacterial inhibition properties of LF indicated that the adhesion and invasion by Escherichia coli HB 101 into intestinal cells (model system) was significantly inhibited by LF. In addition, iron-saturated LF exhibited bactericidal effects towards Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Streptococcus groups A and B in phosphate buffer saline. This may be due to superoxide compounds formed when iron bound in a non-catalytic form by LF, is released and subsequently re-bound in a catalytic form by the bacteria.

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