[Therapeutic properties of proteins and peptides from colostrum and milk]

Postepy Hig Med Dosw (Online). 2005:59:309-23.
[Article in Polish]


Colostrum and milk are rich in proteins and peptides which play a crucial role in innate immunity when transferred to the offspring and may accelerate maturation of the immune system in neonates. The immunotropic properties of these proteins prompted investigators research their potential application in prevention and therapy. Lactoferrin (LF) exhibits antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, antiparasitice, and antitumoral activities. It is protective with regard to intestinal epithelium, promotes bone growth, and accelerates the recovery of immune system function in immunocompromised animals. LF was tried in the treatment of hepatitis C infection and the intestinal form of graft-versus-host disease (GvHD). A proline-rich polypeptide (PRP) demonstrated a variety of immunotropic functions, including the promotion of T-cell maturation and inhibition of autoimmune disorders. PRP, in the form of chewable tablets (Colostrinin) was recently found to improve or stabilize the health status of Alzheimer's disease patients. Casein and casein-derived peptides showed protective activities in enamel demineralization and as caries-preventing agents. The protein hydrolyzates were also protective in diabetic animals, reduced tumor growth, had antihypertensive activity and diminished colicky symptoms in infants. Glycomacropeptide (GMP), a peptide derived from kappa-casein, exhibited various antibacterial and antithrombotic activities. Alpha-lactalbumin (LA) demonstrated antiviral, antitumoral and anti-stress properties. LA-enriched diets were anxiolytic, lowered blood pressure in rats, prevented diarrhea, and led to a better weight gain in malnourished children. HAMLET, a complex of LA and oleic acid, was effective in patients with cutaneous papillomas. Lysozyme found application in infant formulas, the treatment of periodentitis, and the prevention of tooth decay. Milk enriched in lysozyme was used in feeding premature infants suffering from concomitant diseases. Interesting, antibacterial properties were exhibited by lactoperoxidase. Both lysozyme and lactoperoxidase required cooperative action with LF in combating bacteria. In conclusion, preparations derived from milk and colostrum are effective, easily bioaccessible, and safe, finding wide application in prevention and therapy for newborns and adults.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Alzheimer Disease / drug therapy
  • Animals
  • Anti-Infective Agents / pharmacology
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology
  • Autoimmune Diseases / drug therapy
  • Caseins / metabolism
  • Child
  • Colostrum / chemistry
  • Colostrum / immunology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins
  • Lactoferrin / immunology
  • Lactoferrin / metabolism
  • Lactoferrin / pharmacology*
  • Lactoperoxidase / metabolism
  • Malnutrition / drug therapy
  • Milk Proteins / metabolism
  • Milk Proteins / pharmacology
  • Milk Proteins / therapeutic use*
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Peptides / administration & dosage
  • Pregnancy
  • Tooth Diseases / prevention & control


  • Anti-Infective Agents
  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Caseins
  • Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins
  • Milk Proteins
  • Peptides
  • colostrinine
  • Lactoperoxidase
  • Lactoferrin