Oral lactoferrin inhibits growth of established tumors and potentiates conventional chemotherapy.
Int J Cancer. 2004 Sep 1 ;111(3):398-403. PMID: 15221967
In this work, we investigated the anticancer activity of orally administered recombinant human lactoferrin (rhLF) alone and in combination with chemotherapy in tumor-bearing mice. rhLF inhibited the growth of squamous cell carcinoma (O12) tumors in T cell-immunocompromised nu/nu mice by 80% when administered at 1,000 mg/kg (2.9 g/m2) by oral gavage twice daily for 8 days (p<0.001). Similar activity was observed in syngeneic, immunocompetent BALB/c mice, where orally administered rhLF (1,000 mg/kg, 2.9 g/m2 once daily) halted the growth of mammary adenocarcinoma TUBO. Oral rhLF (200 mg/kg, 0.57 g/m2) was also used alone and in combination with cis-platinum (5 mg/kg) to treat head-and-neck squamous cell carcinoma in a syngeneic murine model. Monotherapy with oral rhLF or cis-platinum caused 61% or 66% tumor growth inhibition over placebo, respectively. Mice receiving both therapies showed 79% growth inhibition, a statistically significant improvement over each drug alone. We then demonstrated that administration of oral rhLF (300 mg/kg, 0.86 g/m2) to tumor-bearing or naive mice resulted in (i) significantly increased production of IL-18 in the intestinal tract, (ii) systemic NK cell activation and (iii) circulating CD8+ T-cell expansion. These data suggest that oral rhLF is an immunomodulatory agent active against cancer as a single agent and in combination chemotherapy, exerting its systemic effect through stimulation of IL-18 and other cytokines in the gut enterocytes. rhLF has been administered orally to 211 people without a single serious drug-related adverse event. Thus, rhLF shows promise as a safe and well-tolerated novel immunomodulatory anticancer agent.