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J Interferon Cytokine Res. 2006 Jul;26(7):489-99.

Oral administration of lactoferrin increases NK cell activity in mice via increased production of IL-18 and type I IFN in the small intestine.

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  • 1Nutritional Science Laboratory, Morinaga Milk Industry Co., Ltd., Zama, Kanagawa, Japan.


Evidence that lactoferrin (LF) influences various immune functions is now accumulating. Recent reports have shown that bovine LF (BoLF) enhances antimicrobial, antiviral, and antitumor immune activities when orally administered. Here, we report that orally administered BoLF increases natural killer (NK) cell populations in peripheral blood and spleen in a dose-dependent manner and enhances interferon-gamma (IFN-gamma) production by NK cells. Using intraperitoneal (i.p.) injection of poly(I:C) to induce NK cell trafficking into the peritoneum, oral BoLF increased NK cell migration. Oral BoLF also produced an immediate increase in the levels of interleukin-18 (IL-18) in the portal circulation. In IL-18 knockout (KO) mice, BoLF did not increase the numbers of NK cells, although NK cell cytotoxic activity and poly(I:C)-induced trafficking activity were both enhanced by oral BoLF, even in IL-18 KO mice. Furthermore, oral BoLF increased the expression of IFN-alpha and IFN-beta in Peyer's patches (PP) and mesenteric lymph nodes (MLN). Oral administration of 2- chloroadenosine selectively depleted the PP cells and blocked the ability of oral BoLF to increase NK cell accumulation in the peritoneum following poly(I:C) i.p. injection. Collectively, these results demonstrate that orally administered BoLF stimulates intestine-associated immune functions, including the production of IL- 18 and type I IFNs and increased NK cell activity.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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