Antimicrobial properties of lactoferrin

Biochimie. 2009 Jan;91(1):19-29. doi: 10.1016/j.biochi.2008.05.015. Epub 2008 Jun 5.


Milk is a vital nutritional source for the offspring of all mammals, including humans. In addition to its nutritional value, it is a rich source of proteins including lactoferrin. Lactoferrin is a truly multifunctional protein that has been studied extensively over the past decades. It is best known for its ability to bind iron, which eventually led to the discovery of its antibacterial activity. In addition, lactoferrin has demonstrated potent antiviral, antifungal and antiparasitic activity, towards a broad spectrum of species. It is also considered to be an important host defense molecule during infant development. In this review, we focus on the antimicrobial activities of lactoferrin with particular emphasis on antibacterial and antiviral activities, although its antifungal and -parasitic activity are also discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacology
  • Anti-Infective Agents / pharmacology*
  • Antifungal Agents / pharmacology
  • Antiparasitic Agents / pharmacology
  • Antiviral Agents / pharmacology
  • Lactoferrin / pharmacology*


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Anti-Infective Agents
  • Antifungal Agents
  • Antiparasitic Agents
  • Antiviral Agents
  • Lactoferrin