Orally administered lactoferrin exerts an antimetastatic effect and enhances production of IL-18 in the intestinal epithelium

Nutr Cancer. 2000;38(2):192-9. doi: 10.1207/S15327914NC382_8.


The effects of oral administration of bovine lactoferrin (bLF) and its hydrolysate on the lung colonization by colon 26 carcinoma were investigated. At doses of 100 or 300 mg/kg/day for seven successive days, bLFs demonstrated a significant inhibitory effect on experimental metastasis, which indicated effectiveness before and after tumor implantation. Oral administration of bLFs augmented CD4+, CD8+, and asialoGM1+ cells in the spleen and peripheral blood. Their cytotoxic activities against Yac-1 and colon 26 carcinoma were enhanced by bLF. In the small intestinal epithelium, CD4+ and CD8+ cells were markedly increased, and, simultaneously, enhanced production of interleukin-18 (IL-18) was confirmed in the intestinal epithelial cells. In this model, intravenous injection of murine IL-18 showed significant inhibition of the lung colonization by colon 26 carcinoma. These results suggested that inhibition of experimental metastasis by oral administration of bLF and pepsin hydrolysate of bLF might be due to enhanced cellular immunity, presumably mediated by enhanced IL-18 production in the intestinal epithelium.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Animals
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • Carcinoma / pathology
  • Carcinoma / prevention & control
  • Carcinoma / secondary
  • Colonic Neoplasms / pathology
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique
  • G(M1) Ganglioside / analysis
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Cellular
  • Interleukin-18 / biosynthesis*
  • Interleukin-18 / immunology
  • Intestinal Mucosa / drug effects
  • Intestinal Mucosa / immunology*
  • Killer Cells, Natural / immunology
  • Lactoferrin / administration & dosage*
  • Lactoferrin / immunology
  • Lung Neoplasms / immunology
  • Lung Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Lung Neoplasms / secondary*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Mice, Nude
  • Neoplasm Transplantation
  • Specific Pathogen-Free Organisms
  • Spleen / cytology
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured


  • Interleukin-18
  • G(M1) Ganglioside
  • asialo GM1 ganglioside
  • Lactoferrin