Bovine colostrum modulates immune activation cascades in human peripheral blood mononuclear cells in vitro

New Microbiol. 2010 Apr;33(2):129-35.


Bovine colostrum (BC) is the thick yellow fluid a lactating cow gives to a suckling calf during its first days of life to support the growth of the calf and prevent gastrointestinal infections until the calf has synthesized its own active immune defense system. BC contains a complex system of immune factors and has a long history of use in traditional medicine. In an approach to evaluate the effects of bovine colostrum (BC) on the T-cell/macrophage interplay, we investigated and compared the capacity of BC containing low and high amounts of lactose and lactoferrin to modulate tryptophan degradation and neopterin formation in unstimulated and mitogen-stimulated human peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC). The present study shows significant immunomodulatory effects of these BC preparations in human PBMC, either by enhancing or suppressing the occurrence of a Th-1 type immune response. The amount of lactose present in BC seems to diminish the activity of BC in our test system, since BC with higher amounts of lactose attenuated the stimulatory as well as the suppressive activity of BC.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cattle
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Colostrum / chemistry
  • Colostrum / immunology*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Immunologic
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunologic Factors / immunology
  • Lactoferrin / immunology
  • Lactoferrin / metabolism
  • Lactose / immunology
  • Lactose / metabolism
  • Leukocytes, Mononuclear / immunology*
  • Lymphocyte Activation
  • Neopterin / metabolism
  • Th1 Cells / immunology
  • Tryptophan / metabolism


  • Immunologic Factors
  • Neopterin
  • Tryptophan
  • Lactoferrin
  • Lactose