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Early-lactation, but not mid-lactation, bovine lactoferrin preparation increases epithelial barrier integrity of Caco-2 cell layers

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-03, 12:25 authored by Rachel AndersonRachel Anderson, Shalome Bassett, Neill Haggarty, Pramod Gopal, Kelly Armstrong, Nicole Roy
Bovine lactoferrin is an important milk protein with many health-promoting properties, including improving intestinal barrier integrity. Dysfunction of this barrier, commonly referred to as “leaky gut,” has been linked to inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. With some processing techniques, lactoferrin isolated from milk collected at the start of the milking season (early lactation) may have lower purity than that isolated from milk collected during the rest of the milking season (mid-lactation) and could result in differences in bioactivity based on the stage of lactation. We compared reversed-phase HPLC chromatographs of early-lactation and mid-lactation preparations and found that both had large chromatograph peaks at the time predicted for lactoferrin. The notable difference between the 2 chromatographs was a much larger peak in the early-lactation lactoferrin sample that was determined to be angiogenin. Angiogenin was first identified due to its ability to induce new blood vessel formation, but is now known to be involved in numerous physiological processes. Then, we compared the effects of early-lactation and mid-lactation lactoferrin preparations in 2 bioassays: trans-epithelial electrical resistance (TEER), a measure of intestinal barrier integrity, and peripheral blood mononuclear cell cytokine secretion, a measure of immune-stimulatory properties. We found that early-lactation lactoferrin increased TEER across Caco-2 cell layers compared with control from 10 to 48 h, mid-lactation lactoferrin did not alter TEER. We also found that early-lactation lactoferrin reduced the amount of IL-8 produced by peripheral blood mononuclear cells (compared with those treated with control medium) to a greater extent than mid-lactation lactoferrin. A pro-inflammatory chemokine, IL-8 is also known to decrease barrier function. These results suggest that the decrease in IL-8 production in the presence of early-lactation lactoferrin may be the mechanism by which it increases TEER. The anti-inflammatory effect of early-lactation lactoferrin may be related to the presence of angiogenin, which is known to suppress inflammatory responses. This work indicates that products rich in angiogenin may have intestinal health benefits, and further work to investigate this is warranted.


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© American Dairy Science Association®, 2017.


  • English

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Journal title

Journal of Dairy Science




Anderson, R. C., Bassett, S. A., Haggarty, N. W., Gopal, P. K., Armstrong, K. M., & Roy, N. C. (2017). Early-lactation, but not mid-lactation, bovine lactoferrin preparation increases epithelial barrier integrity of Caco-2 cell layers. Journal of Dairy Science, 100(2), 886–891. doi:10.3168/jds.2016-11803


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