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Clin Chem Lab Med. 1999 Mar;37(3):281-6.

Lactoferrin: a multifunctional glycoprotein involved in the modulation of the inflammatory process.

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Unité Mixte de Recherche du Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique n 111 et Laboratoire de Chimie Biologique, Université des Sciences et Technologies de Lille, Villeneuve d'Ascq, France.


Lactoferrin is an iron-binding glycoprotein found in exocrine secretions of mammals and released from neutrophilic granules during inflammation. This review describes the biological roles of lactoferrin in host defence. Secreted lactoferrin exerts antimicrobial action either by chelation of iron or by destabilization of bacterial membranes. Furthermore, lactoferrin modulates the inflammatory process, mainly by preventing the release of cytokines from monocytes and by regulating the proliferation and differentiation of immune cells. Some of these activities are related to the ability of lactoferrin to bind lipopolysaccharides (LPS) with high affinity. Indeed, recent in vitro studies indicate that lactoferrin is able to compete with the LPS-binding protein for LPS binding and therefore to prevent the transfer of LPS to CD14 present at the surface of monocytes. Moreover, the prophylactic properties of lactoferrin against septicemia in vivo have been demonstrated. Taken as a whole, these observations strongly suggest that lactoferrin is one of the key molecules which modulate the inflammatory response.

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