Iron is not required in the lactoferrin stimulation of thymidine incorporation into the DNA of rat crypt enterocytes

Pediatr Res. 1990 May;27(5):525-8. doi: 10.1203/00006450-199005000-00022.


Lactoferrin has been identified as a factor in human colostrum that accounts for increased incorporation of thymidine into the DNA in an in vitro rat crypt enterocyte bioassay. We have examined lactoferrin-stimulated thymidine incorporation by comparing the effects of iron-free lactoferrin (apolactoferrin) with those of iron-saturated lactoferrin (diferric lactoferrin) under conditions that inhibit the transfer of iron between these iron-binding proteins in the bioassay system. In addition, we have compared the dose-response relationships of diferric lactoferrin and apolactoferrin. The results demonstrated that lactoferrin, independent of iron-binding states, promoted the incorporation of thymidine into the DNA of rat crypt enterocytes. These observations suggest a previously unreported nutritional role for lactoferrin that is independent of its iron-binding capacity.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoproteins / pharmacology*
  • Cells, Cultured
  • DNA / biosynthesis*
  • Humans
  • Intestinal Mucosa / metabolism
  • Intestines / drug effects*
  • Iron / physiology*
  • Iron Radioisotopes
  • Lactoferrin / isolation & purification
  • Lactoferrin / pharmacology*
  • Lactoferrin / physiology*
  • Lactoglobulins / pharmacology*
  • Lactoglobulins / physiology*
  • Male
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred Strains
  • Thymidine / metabolism*


  • Apoproteins
  • Iron Radioisotopes
  • Lactoglobulins
  • apolactoferrin
  • DNA
  • Iron
  • Lactoferrin
  • Thymidine