Body secretions contain lactoferrin (Lf,) an iron-containing protein which is a natural defense to tissues commonly exposed to bacteria. Lf has been shown to have the following functions:
1. Regulation of intestinal iron absorption.
2. Promotion of intestinal cell growth.
3. Protection from bacterial infections.
4. Promotion of white cell growth.
5. Control of the body’s immune response.
Lf is increased in inflammatory diseases, neurodegeneration, inflammatory bowel disease, asthma and arthritis. Lf enhances intestinal immunity and suppresses development and metastasis of cancer of colon, lung, esophagus, bladder and tongue.
The initial study was done to see if natural bovine Lf (bLf) and iron-saturated bLf, known as Lf(+), alter cancer chemotherapy. Then, the authors studied mice pre-treated with bLf. The mice were given subcutaneous lymphoma cancer cells, followed by chemotherapy. The mice were divided into 7 protocol groups.
Mice given Lf(+) for 6 weeks were able to completely eliminate large lymphomas. The Lf(+) inhibited the development of cancers even before chemotherapy was given. Mice fed low saturated (4% to 50%) bLf were unable to eliminate their tumors with chemotherapy.
Various chemotherapeutic agents were tested in combination with Lf(+). Lf(+) and chemotherapy combinations were found to have increased benefits against cancer. Methotrexate was the only chemotherapy not supported by Lf(+). Lf(+) had to be given for 2 weeks prior to chemotherapy to be fully effective. A combination of Lf(+), paclitaxel and doxorubicin was effective in nearly completely blocking angiogenesis, blocking cancer growth.
The mice on Lf(+) could eliminate Lewis lung cancer and melanoma cancer. Ten percent of mice fed a Lf(+) diet did not develop cancer at all. Mice fed a normal diet couldn’t eliminate the tumors.
Lf(+) prevents the reduction in red and white cell counts caused by chemotherapy, preventing chemotherapy related anemia and immunosuppression. Lactoferrin has been declared by the Food and Drug Administration to be “generally regarded as safe.” The dose suggested is about 3 g/day of Lf(+) for a 70 kg. person.
CONCLUSION: Fully iron-saturated bLf, or Lf(+), supports cancer chemotherapy with paclitaxil. Normal bLf did not. This is the first study of lactoferrin’s augmentation of chemotherapy.
NOTE: Read about lactoferrin as a bioactive peptide and as functional food.
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