Affiliation: Department of Biology, University ‘Roma Tre’, Viale Marconi,446, I-00146, Roma, Italy.
The first function attributed to lactoferrin, an iron-binding protein belonging to the non-immune natural defences, was antimicrobial activity related to its capability of sequestering iron. Many other antimicrobial and antiviral functions have been ascribed to lactoferrin. In vitro activity towards human pathogenic fungi on the part of both human and bovine lactoferrin has been well documented as well. The antifungal activity appears to be related to lactoferrin interference with the fungal cell surface rather than iron deprivation and some host-mediated mechanisms of action cannot be ruled out. Lactoferrin also displays anti-parasitic activity, although the molecular mechanisms of such activity are even more complex.