Multifunctional iron bound lactoferrin and nanomedicinal approaches to enhance its bioactive functions

Molecules. 2015 May 26;20(6):9703-31. doi: 10.3390/molecules20069703.


Lactoferrin (Lf), an iron-binding protein from the transferrin family has been reported to have numerous functions. Even though Lf was first isolated from milk, it is also found in most exocrine secretions and in the secondary granules of neutrophils. Antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory activity reports on lactoferrin identified its significance in host defense against infection and extreme inflammation. Anticarcinogenic reports on lactoferrin make this protein even more valuable. This review is focused on the structural configuration of iron-containing and iron-free forms of lactoferrin obtained from different sources such as goat, camel and bovine. Apart for emphasizing on the specific beneficial properties of lactoferrin from each of these sources, the general antimicrobial, immunomodulatory and anticancer activities of lactoferrin are discussed here. Implementation of nanomedicinial strategies that enhance the bioactive function of lactoferrin are also discussed, along with information on lactoferrin in clinical trials.

Keywords: bovine; camel; cancer; immunity; lactoferrin; nanoparticles.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Infective Agents / immunology
  • Anti-Infective Agents / metabolism
  • Anti-Infective Agents / pharmacology*
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / immunology
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / metabolism
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / pharmacology*
  • Antineoplastic Agents / immunology
  • Antineoplastic Agents / metabolism
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Camelus
  • Cattle
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Goats
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Innate
  • Inflammation / drug therapy
  • Inflammation / immunology
  • Inflammation / pathology
  • Iron / metabolism*
  • Iron Chelating Agents / metabolism
  • Iron Chelating Agents / pharmacology*
  • Lactoferrin / immunology
  • Lactoferrin / metabolism
  • Lactoferrin / pharmacology*
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Neoplasms / immunology
  • Neoplasms / pathology
  • Neutrophils / immunology
  • Neutrophils / metabolism


  • Anti-Infective Agents
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Iron Chelating Agents
  • Iron
  • Lactoferrin