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Immunol Lett. 2003 Oct 9;89(1):9-15.

Orally administered lactoferrin restores humoral immune response in immunocompromised mice.

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Institute of Immunology and Experimental Therapy, Polish Academy of Sciences, Wroclaw, Poland.


Cyclophosphamide (CP) is an anti-tumor drug commonly used in the chemotherapy of human cancer and autoimmune diseases. In our previous studies, we have demonstrated that lactoferrin (LF), given orally to CP-immunosuppressed mice, could reconstitute a T cell mediated immune response by the renewal of the T cell population. The aim of this present study was to evaluate the effects of LF on humoral responses in mice treated with cyclophosphamide. We demonstrate that a single, sublethal dose of cyclophosphamide (400 mg/kg body weight) profoundly inhibited the humoral immune response of CBA mice to sheep red blood cells (SRBC), as measured by the number of antibody forming cells (AFC) in the spleen after 5 weeks following CP treatment. Administration of 0.5% bovine LF in drinking water for 5 weeks partially reconstituted the AFC number (30-40% of the control values, but 7-10x more than in CP-treated controls). Determination of T and B cell levels in the spleens by flow cytometry revealed that the content of CD3+ and CD4+ as well as Ig+ splenocytes was elevated in the immunocompromised mice treated with LF. In addition, the number of peritoneal macrophages was partially restored following LF treatment. Evaluation of the proliferative response to concanavalin A (ConA) and pokeweed mitogen (PWM) demonstrated that the diminished reactivity of splenocytes from CP-treated mice was significantly enhanced by LF. In summary, we conclude that the prolonged, oral treatment of immunocompromised mice with LF led to partial reconstitution of the humoral response, associated with elevation of T and B cell and macrophage content and the proliferative response of splenocytes to mitogens.

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