Lactoferrin provides protection against bacterial infections thanks to its ability to deprive bacteria of the iron necessary for their proliferation. Lactoferrin also acts against RNA and DNA viruses such as hepatitis C, Zika, and herpes.
Its immunomodulating action helps to regulate the inflammatory response by modulating the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines, proteins involved in immune function. Lactoferrin also promotes the proliferation of immune system cells (T lymphocytes and NK cells) and the production of interferon gamma (IFNγ). IFNγ is an immunomodulator involved in the recruitment of immune cells such as leukocytes.
Lactoferrin has many other properties. It is involved, for example, in the regulation of cell growth by limiting the growth of tumor cells and promoting death by apoptosis of cancer cells. Lactoferrin also inhibits angiogenesis, a mechanism that promotes the formation of new blood vessels (neovascularization) and is essential for the growth of tumors and the development of metastases in different organs, since cancer cells need nutrients and oxygen to proliferate. Because of its involvement in many of the body's defense mechanisms, lactoferrin appears to be a multifunctional protein, and therefore a valuable ally.