Milk-derived proteins and peptides of potential therapeutic and nutritive value

J Exp Ther Oncol. 2007;6(2):89-106.


Milk and colostrum are rich in proteins and peptides which play a crucial role in development of the immune system in mammalian offspring. Immunotropic properties of these compounds prompted investigators to search for their utility in prevention and therapy of various disorders in humans. The following constituents of milk are of particular interest: 1) Lactoferrin (LF)--exhibits antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, antiparasite and antitumor activities. It is protective with regard to intestinal epithelium, promotes bone growth and accelerates recovery of the immune system function in immunocompromised animal; 2) A Proline-Rich Polypeptide (PRP) shows a variety of immunotropic functions, including promotion of T-cell maturation and inhibition'of autoimmune disorders. PRP was recently found to improve or stabilize the Instrumental Activity of Daily Living status in Alzheimer's disease patients. 3) Casein--has been protective in experimental bacteremia by eliciting myelopoiesis. Casein hydrolyzates were also protective in diabetic animals, reduced the tumor growth and diminished colicky symptoms in infants. Casein-derived peptides have been found to have antihypertensive effects. Glycomacropeptide (GMP)--a peptide derived from kappa casein, exhibits antibacterial and antithrombotic activities. 4) Alpha lactalbumin (LA)--demonstrates antiviral, antitumor 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. 5) Lysozyme--is effective in treatment of periodentitis and prevention of tooth decay. Milk enriched in lysozyme was used in feeding premature infants suffering from concomitant diseases. 6) Lactoperoxidase--shows antibacterial properties. In conclusion, milk-derived proteins and peptides are bio-accessible and safe for the prevention and treatment of numerous disorders in humans.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Infective Agents / pharmacology
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / pharmacology
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology
  • Caseins / pharmacology
  • Caseins / therapeutic use
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Humans
  • Lactalbumin / pharmacology
  • Lactalbumin / therapeutic use
  • Lactoferrin / pharmacology
  • Lactoferrin / therapeutic use
  • Lactoperoxidase / pharmacology
  • Lactoperoxidase / therapeutic use
  • Milk Proteins / pharmacology*
  • Milk Proteins / therapeutic use
  • Muramidase / pharmacology
  • Muramidase / therapeutic use
  • Nutritive Value*
  • Peptides / pharmacology
  • Peptides / therapeutic use
  • Proline-Rich Protein Domains


  • Anti-Infective Agents
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Caseins
  • Milk Proteins
  • Peptides
  • Lactalbumin
  • Lactoperoxidase
  • Muramidase
  • Lactoferrin