Role of lactoferrin and lactoferrin-derived peptides in oral and maxillofacial diseases

Oral Dis. 2019 Apr;25(3):652-669. doi: 10.1111/odi.12868. Epub 2018 Jun 7.


The oral cavity harbors different taxonomic groups, the evolutionary coexistence of which develops the oral ecosystem. These resident microorganisms can alter the balance between the physiologic and pathologic conditions that affect the host, both locally and systemically. This highly sophisticated nature of the oral cavity poses a significant therapeutic challenge. Numerous human and animal studies have been conducted to potentiate the efficacy and competence of current treatments of pathologic conditions as well as to develop novel therapeutic modalities. One of these studies is the use of the potent antimicrobial agent lactoferrin (LF), which was originally derived from the host immune system. LF is an 80-kDa glycoprotein that has a free iron sequestration mechanism with evident antimicrobial, anti-tumor, and immunomodulatory properties. A wide range of active peptides have been isolated from the N-terminal region of LF, which possess antimicrobial activities. In this review, we discuss the role of LF and LF-derived peptides under a heterogeneous group of oral and maxillofacial conditions, including bacterial, fungal, viral infections; head and neck cancers; xerostomia; and implantology-bone-related manifestations.

Keywords: dental caries; human lactoferrin; lactoferrin-knockout mice; oral cancer; oral diseases; periodontal diseases.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bacteria / drug effects*
  • Candida albicans / drug effects
  • Carcinogenesis / drug effects
  • Dental Caries / microbiology
  • Dental Caries / prevention & control
  • Humans
  • Lactoferrin / genetics
  • Lactoferrin / pharmacology*
  • Lactoferrin / therapeutic use
  • Mouth Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Peptides / pharmacology*
  • Peptides / therapeutic use
  • Periodontal Diseases / microbiology*
  • Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide
  • Streptococcus mutans / drug effects
  • Virus Physiological Phenomena / drug effects


  • Peptides
  • Lactoferrin