Lactoferrin structure and functions

Adv Exp Med Biol. 2008;606:163-94. doi: 10.1007/978-0-387-74087-4_6.


Lactoferrin (Lf) is an iron binding glycoprotein of the transferrin family that is expressed in most biological fluids and is a major component of mammals' innate immune system. Its protective effect ranges from direct antimicrobial activities against a large panel of microorganisms, including bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites, to anti-inflammatory and anticancer activities. This plethora of activities is made possible by mechanisms of action implementing not only the capacity of Lf to bind iron but also interactions of Lf with molecular and cellular components of both host and pathogens. This chapter summarizes our current understanding of the Lf structure-function relationships that explain the roles of Lf in host defense.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Infective Agents / pharmacology
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / pharmacology
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology
  • Humans
  • Lactoferrin / chemistry*
  • Lactoferrin / genetics
  • Lactoferrin / metabolism*
  • Milk, Human / chemistry
  • Structure-Activity Relationship


  • Anti-Infective Agents
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal
  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Lactoferrin