Antiviral activities of lactoferrin

Antiviral Res. 2001 Dec;52(3):225-39. doi: 10.1016/s0166-3542(01)00195-4.


Lactoferrin (LF) is an iron binding glycoprotein that is present in several mucosal secretions. Many biological functions have been ascribed to LF. One of the functions of LF is the transport of metals, but LF is also an important component of the non-specific immune system, since LF has antimicrobial properties against bacteria, fungi and several viruses. This review gives an overview of the present knowledge about the antiviral activities and, when possible, the antiviral modes of action of this protein. Lactoferrin displays antiviral activity against both DNA- and RNA-viruses, including rotavirus, respiratory syncytial virus, herpes viruses and HIV. The antiviral effect of LF lies in the early phase of infection. Lactoferrin prevents entry of virus in the host cell, either by blocking cellular receptors, or by direct binding to the virus particles.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antiviral Agents / chemistry
  • Antiviral Agents / metabolism*
  • Antiviral Agents / pharmacokinetics
  • Antiviral Agents / pharmacology
  • Humans
  • Lactoferrin / chemistry
  • Lactoferrin / metabolism*
  • Lactoferrin / pharmacokinetics
  • Lactoferrin / pharmacology
  • Milk / chemistry
  • Milk / virology
  • Virus Diseases / diet therapy
  • Virus Diseases / metabolism*
  • Virus Diseases / virology
  • Virus Replication / drug effects


  • Antiviral Agents
  • Lactoferrin