Orally administered lactoferrin increases hepatic protein synthesis in formula-fed newborn pigs

Pediatr Res. 1996 Jul;40(1):72-6. doi: 10.1203/00006450-199607000-00013.


Lactoferrin is a polypeptide which is abundant in colostrum; however, its biologic effect in the neonate is unknown. The objective was to determine the potentially anabolic effect of orally administered lactoferrin on visceral organ growth and protein synthesis in newborn pigs. We studied a total of 18 unsuckled newborn pigs from six litters. Three pigs from each litter were randomly assigned to one of three dietary treatment groups (n = 6) and bottle-fed (10 mL/h) formula, formula containing physiologic levels (1 mg/mL) of added bovine lactoferrin (bLF), or colostrum. After 24 h of feeding, we measured visceral organ protein synthesis in vivo using a flooding dose of [3H]phenylalanine. We also measured visceral organ protein and DNA mass, as well as intestinal hydrolase activities and villus morphology. Hepatic protein synthesis in pigs fed either formula containing bLF or colostrum was similar and in both groups was significantly higher than in pigs fed formula. Splenic protein synthesis was not significantly different in pigs fed either formula or formula containing bLF, but was significantly higher in colostrum-fed animals. There were no significant differences in small intestinal growth, protein synthesis, or hydrolase activities between newborn pigs fed formula, formula containing bLF, or colostrum. Our results demonstrate that feeding formula containing physiologic concentrations of added bLF increased hepatic protein synthesis in newborn pigs, suggesting that colostrumborne lactoferrin serves an anabolic function in neonates.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • Colostrum / physiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant Food*
  • Lactoferrin / administration & dosage*
  • Liver / drug effects*
  • Liver / metabolism
  • Pregnancy
  • Protein Biosynthesis*
  • Random Allocation
  • Swine
  • Viscera / growth & development


  • Lactoferrin