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Review

Lactoferrin’s Anti-Cancer Properties: Safety, Selectivity, and Wide Range of Action

1
Department of Biosciences and Territory, University of Molise, 86090 Pesche, Italy
2
Department of Public Health and Infectious Diseases, University of Rome La Sapienza, 00185 Rome, Italy
3
Department of Biochemical Sciences, Sapienza University of Rome, 00185 Rome, Italy
*
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
These authors contributed equally to this work.
Received: 25 February 2020 / Revised: 12 March 2020 / Accepted: 13 March 2020 / Published: 15 March 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biomolecules and Cancer Prevention)
Despite recent advances in cancer therapy, current treatments, including radiotherapy, chemotherapy, and immunotherapy, although beneficial, present attendant side effects and long-term sequelae, usually more or less affecting quality of life of the patients. Indeed, except for most of the immunotherapeutic agents, the complete lack of selectivity between normal and cancer cells for radio- and chemotherapy can make them potential antagonists of the host anti-cancer self-defense over time. Recently, the use of nutraceuticals as natural compounds corroborating anti-cancer standard therapy is emerging as a promising tool for their relative abundance, bioavailability, safety, low-cost effectiveness, and immuno-compatibility with the host. In this review, we outlined the anti-cancer properties of Lactoferrin (Lf), an iron-binding glycoprotein of the innate immune defense. Lf shows high bioavailability after oral administration, high selectivity toward cancer cells, and a wide range of molecular targets controlling tumor proliferation, survival, migration, invasion, and metastasization. Of note, Lf is able to promote or inhibit cell proliferation and migration depending on whether it acts upon normal or cancerous cells, respectively. Importantly, Lf administration is highly tolerated and does not present significant adverse effects. Moreover, Lf can prevent development or inhibit cancer growth by boosting adaptive immune response. Finally, Lf was recently found to be an ideal carrier for chemotherapeutics, even for the treatment of brain tumors due to its ability to cross the blood–brain barrier, thus globally appearing as a promising tool for cancer prevention and treatment, especially in combination therapies. View Full-Text
Keywords: lactoferrin; cancer; lactoferrin bioavailability; tumor proliferation; apoptosis; epithelial to mesenchymal transition; metastasis; cancer targeting lactoferrin; cancer; lactoferrin bioavailability; tumor proliferation; apoptosis; epithelial to mesenchymal transition; metastasis; cancer targeting
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MDPI and ACS Style

Cutone, A.; Rosa, L.; Ianiro, G.; Lepanto, M.S.; Bonaccorsi di Patti, M.C.; Valenti, P.; Musci, G. Lactoferrin’s Anti-Cancer Properties: Safety, Selectivity, and Wide Range of Action. Biomolecules 2020, 10, 456. https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/biom10030456

AMA Style

Cutone A, Rosa L, Ianiro G, Lepanto MS, Bonaccorsi di Patti MC, Valenti P, Musci G. Lactoferrin’s Anti-Cancer Properties: Safety, Selectivity, and Wide Range of Action. Biomolecules. 2020; 10(3):456. https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/biom10030456

Chicago/Turabian Style

Cutone, Antimo, Luigi Rosa, Giusi Ianiro, Maria S. Lepanto, Maria C. Bonaccorsi di Patti, Piera Valenti, and Giovanni Musci. 2020. "Lactoferrin’s Anti-Cancer Properties: Safety, Selectivity, and Wide Range of Action" Biomolecules 10, no. 3: 456. https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/biom10030456

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