Lactoferrin efficacy versus ferrous sulfate in curing iron disorders in pregnant and non-pregnant women

Int J Immunopathol Pharmacol. 2010 Apr-Jun;23(2):577-87. doi: 10.1177/039463201002300220.


Iron homeostasis in pregnancy compensates for increased iron requirements and in women of child-bearing age for iron loss in menses. Oral administration of ferrous sulfate, prescribed to cure iron deficiency (ID) and ID anemia (IDA), often fails to increase hematological parameters and causes adverse effects. Recently, we demonstrated safety and efficacy of bovine lactoferrin (bLf) in pregnant women suffering from ID/IDA. Two clinical trials were conducted on pregnant and non-pregnant women of child-bearing age suffering from ID/IDA. In both trials, women received oral administration of bLf 100 mg/twice/day (Arm A), or ferrous sulfate 520 mg/day (Arm B). Hematological parameters, serum IL-6 and prohepcidin were assayed before and after therapy. Unlike ferrous sulfate, bLf increased hematological parameters (P less than 0.0001). In pregnant women, bLf decreased serum IL-6 (P less than 0.0001), and increased prohepcidin (P=0.0007). In non-pregnant women bLf did not change the low IL-6 levels while it increased prohepcidin (P less than 0.0001). Ferrous sulfate increased IL-6 (P less than 0.0001) and decreased prohepcidin (P=0.093). bLf established iron homeostasis by modulating serum IL-6 and prohepcidin synthesis, whereas ferrous sulfate increased IL-6 and failed to increase hematological parameters and prohepcidin. bLf is a more effective and safer alternative than ferrous sulfate for treating ID and IDA.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial, Phase I
  • Clinical Trial, Phase II
  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anemia, Iron-Deficiency / drug therapy*
  • Antimicrobial Cationic Peptides / blood
  • Female
  • Ferrous Compounds / therapeutic use*
  • Hepcidins
  • Humans
  • Interleukin-6 / blood
  • Iron Deficiencies*
  • Lactoferrin / therapeutic use*
  • Medication Adherence
  • Middle Aged
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications, Hematologic / drug therapy*
  • Protein Precursors / blood


  • Antimicrobial Cationic Peptides
  • Ferrous Compounds
  • Hepcidins
  • Interleukin-6
  • Protein Precursors
  • ferrous sulfate
  • Lactoferrin