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Bio-Replenishment Science

The 'Lactoferrin' Molecule

The word ‘lactoferrin’ (‘lacto’ – means milk; ‘ferrin’ – means iron) denotes an iron-binding compound present in milk. However, lactoferrin is known to bind several other metals including copper, zinc, manganese, and vanadium. Lactoferrin is a 75 to 80-kDa metal-binding glycoprotein that is normally synthesized inside all mammals, including humans. It is a single-gene product (“bio-replenishment”) that is essential for life. Lactoferrin is present in sperm, amniotic/ seminal/ cerebrospinal/ gastric fluids, saliva, tears, vaginal secretions and other body fluids that bathe mucosal surfaces; as well as in the white blood cells (neutrophils) and is localized in several tissues.  

Each lactoferrin protein molecule has a capacity to avidly bind two atoms of iron (and other metals) in a reversible manner. Based on its iron-binding status, lactoferrin molecule could exist in either ‘apo’ (iron-free) or ‘holo’ (iron-saturated) forms. lactoferrin molecule could also exist (in a very low proportion), as a partially iron-saturated form, i.e. a single atom of iron bound to each molecule. All the three lactoferrin forms are inter-convertible.  

The primary function of lactoferrin is to provide total body protection (innate host defense) and to maintain a healthy physiology (regularity). Lactoferrin is considered a multi-functional protein with a role in several important physiological pathways.

Lactoferrin Bio-Functionality

Physiological Turnover

Lactoferrin is naturally produced and utilized in the body to support various vital functions such as host defense and digestion. It is secreted in response to external stimuli – into the oral cavity (saliva/ crevicular fluid) and intestinal lumen (mucins/ gastric juices). Following the digestive process, any unabsorbed lactoferrin is excreted in the feces, while the absorbed lactoferrin passes through the urine. Lactoferrin is also spent in the tears; via sebum and exudates in skin during inflammation; via seminal fluids in bone joints during exercise; via sperm and vaginal secretions during sex.

Gastro-Intestinal (GI) Support

Lactoferrin stimulates probiotic bacteria that are beneficial for the gut, protects from harmful pathogens, reduces/eliminates toxic compounds and free radicals, helps to rejuvenate intestinal epithelial mucosa and maintains regularity.  

Immune Reinforcement

Lactoferrin interacts with specific receptors on blood cells (i.e. neutrophils, lymphocytes, monocytes and macrophages) and regulate several biochemical mediators of immune response. Lactoferrin avidly promotes to such immune cell cascade and helps stimulating the immune functions.

The iron-chelating capacity of lactoferrin in the metal-binding pockets in coordination with bicarbonate anion has been suggested in the nutritional deprivation and a consequent inhibition of microbial growth.

Lactose & Gluten Free

Most prebiotic compounds are insoluble sugars or fibers (inulin, FOS, etc.) that stimulate the growth of beneficial flora (‘probiotic’ lactobacilli, bifidobacteria, etc.) as non-selective microbial nutrients. Whereas, lactoferrin elicits an iron-independent metabolic stimulation of probiotic flora which is a selective and unique prebiotic activity.

Anti-Microbial

Antibiotics are generally non-selective antimicrobials; therefore, these agents not only kill harmful pathogens but also eliminate beneficial/commensal microorganisms, which often lead to antibiotic-induced diarrhea. Furthermore, development of antibiotic-resistance in microorganisms is an alarming health issue. In contrast, the antimicrobial activity (both stasis and cidal effects) of lactoferrin is selectively limited to pathogens with no issues of any development of microbial drug-resistance.

Antioxidant

The activity of most antioxidants (often plant source vitamins) is instantaneous; therefore, the functionality is not long lasting and could be limited.

Lactoferrin, as an endogenous mammalian protein, has a prolonged antioxidant activity of over 10 hours.

Commercial Applications of Lactoferrin

Due its numerous health benefits, lactoferrin is widely used as an active ingredient in infant formulae (especially South-East Asian countries), food safety, diagnostics, cosmetics, and nutritional supplements for human and veterinary markets.

Lactoferrin is considered safe and is an accepted health ingredient by various government/ regulatory agencies, including the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare (JMHLW) and many more.

Demand for Lactoferrin

With external stresses and natural aging, levels of bioactive compounds (like lactoferrin) and essential nutrients decline and it becomes important to replenish the body’s reserves. This helps to keep the body healthy and energized. Simply gathering “helpful” ingredients and throwing them into a capsule is not enough - most bioactive compounds have multi-functional properties and must be extracted, isolated and activated in order to optimally perform their desired function.

As demand for lactoferrin increases, need for efficient and effective lactoferrin procurement becomes a key. Lactoferrin is largely harvested from cow milk; however, different protein isolation techniques, as well as quality of the raw material result in variance in lactoferrin biological activity. Nonetheless, global production of lactoferrin is currently estimated at 1,000 metric tons/year, and this figure is continuously growing. Recent advances in lactoferrin research elucidate structure-function relationships, anti-microbial/ anti-inflammatory/ anti-oxidant/ immuno-modulatory properties and cost-effective systems for large-scale protein isolation; which has opened up unlimited opportunities for this bio-replenishment to be used in health industry.

Commercial Applications of Lactoferrin

Dr. Naidu and his team have pioneered the field of lactoferrin research over the past 30+ years. He leads an international team of scientists and medical specialists in identifying, developing, and providing public access to the unique health benefits of lactoferrin and other bioactive molecules.

His groundbreaking discoveries have laid foundation for the development of novel lactoferrin-based nutraceuticals, therapeutics and healthcare technologies that have positively impacted healthcare globally. The purification and isolation process used for the milk lactoferrin in Lactoferrin Gold 1.8® is so innovative that it has earned the protection of two U.S. patents.