The antitumor effects of the multifunctional iron-binding glycoprotein, lactoferrin (Lf), were investigated. Lf inhibited growth in mice of transplantable solid tumors induced by v-ras transformed fibroblasts and a methylcholanthrene-induced fibrosarcoma. Lf also substantially reduced lung colonization (experimental metastasis) by B16-F10 melanoma cells in syngeneic mice. Iron-saturated and apo-Lf exhibited comparable levels of tumor inhibition and antimetastatic activity. Transferrin, a related iron-binding protein, had no effect on lung colonization. In the B16-F10 system, elimination of natural killer cell activity by pretreatment of mice with anti-asialo GM1 antibody abrogated the effects of Lf, whereas inhibition of macrophage function with silica did not. The results demonstrate a novel activity for Lf and suggest a potentially important role for this molecule in the primary defense against tumorigenesis.


Supported by NIH Grant GM-49515.

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