Influence of oral administration mode on the efficacy of commercial bovine Lactoferrin against iron and inflammatory homeostasis disorders

Biometals. 2020 Jun;33(2-3):159-168. doi: 10.1007/s10534-020-00236-2. Epub 2020 Apr 9.


Milk derivative bovine Lactoferrin (bLf), a multifunctional glycoprotein available in large quantities and recognized as safe, possesses high homology and identical functions with human Lactoferrin. There are numerous food supplements containing bLf which, however, can vary in its purity, integrity and, consequently, functionality. Here, we report on a clinical trial where bLf (100 mg two times/day) was orally administered before (Arm A) or during meals (Arm B) to pregnant women with hereditary thrombophilia and suffering from anemia of inflammation. A significant increase of the number of red blood cells (RBCs), hemoglobin (Hb), total serum iron (TSI) and serum ferritin (sFtn) levels, along with a significant decrease of interleukin-6 were detected after 30 days in Arm A, but not in Arm B, thus letting us to hypothesize that bLf inefficacy could be related to its degradation by digestive proteases. To verify this hypothesis, bLf was incubated in gastric juice collected before or after meals. An undigested or a digested profile was observed when bLf was incubated in gastric juice sampled before or after meals, respectively. These results can explain the beneficial effect observed when bLf is administered under fasting conditions, i.e. in the absence of active proteases.

Keywords: Anemia of inflammation; Hereditary thrombophilia; Inflammation; Iron homeostasis; Lactoferrin; Quality control.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Anemia, Iron-Deficiency / blood
  • Anemia, Iron-Deficiency / drug therapy*
  • Animals
  • Anti-Infective Agents / administration & dosage
  • Anti-Infective Agents / analysis
  • Anti-Infective Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Cattle
  • Female
  • Gastric Juice / chemistry
  • Gastric Juice / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / blood
  • Inflammation / drug therapy*
  • Iron / blood
  • Iron / metabolism*
  • Lactoferrin / administration & dosage*
  • Lactoferrin / analysis
  • Lactoferrin / therapeutic use*
  • Pregnancy
  • Thrombophilia / blood
  • Thrombophilia / drug therapy*


  • Anti-Infective Agents
  • Iron
  • Lactoferrin

Supplementary concepts

  • Thrombophilia, hereditary