Lactoferrin Induces Erythropoietin Synthesis and Rescues Cognitive Functions in the Offspring of Rats Subjected to Prenatal Hypoxia

Nutrients. 2022 Mar 27;14(7):1399. doi: 10.3390/nu14071399.


The protective effects of recombinant human lactoferrin rhLF (branded "CAPRABEL™") on the cognitive functions of rat offspring subjected to prenatal hypoxia (7% O2, 3 h, 14th day of gestation) have been analyzed. About 90% of rhLF in CAPRABEL was iron-free (apo-LF). Rat dams received several injections of 10 mg of CAPRABEL during either gestation (before and after the hypoxic attack) or lactation. Western blotting revealed the appearance of erythropoietin (EPO) alongside the hypoxia-inducible factors (HIFs) in organ homogenates of apo-rhLF-treated pregnant females, their embryos (but not placentas), and in suckling pups from the dams treated with apo-rhLF during lactation. Apo-rhLF injected to rat dams either during pregnancy or nurturing the pups was able to rescue cognitive deficits caused by prenatal hypoxia and improve various types of memory both in young and adult offspring when tested in the radial maze and by the Novel Object Recognition (NOR) test. The data obtained suggested that the apo-form of human LF injected to female rats during gestation or lactation protects the cognitive functions of their offspring impaired by prenatal hypoxia.

Keywords: cognitive functions; erythropoietin; hypoxia; hypoxia-inducible factor; lactoferrin; pregnancy.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cognition
  • Erythropoietin* / metabolism
  • Erythropoietin* / pharmacology
  • Female
  • Hypoxia / complications
  • Hypoxia / drug therapy
  • Lactoferrin*
  • Pregnancy
  • Rats
  • Recombinant Proteins / pharmacology
  • Vitamins


  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Vitamins
  • Erythropoietin
  • Lactoferrin