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Classed as a glycoprotein, it is primarily secreted by neutrophils (the most abundant type of white blood cell) and through exocrine glands and so is found in fluids such as saliva, tears, semen, bile, digestive juices, urine, blood plasma and amniotic fluid.

This protein can be found in the milk of humans and other mammals. Colostrum, the first milk produced post-birth contains high levels of lactoferrin – about seven times the amount found in more mature breast milk as it is required to support immune and gastrointestinal development in infants.

Lactoferrin levels in the body can be used as a marker of inflammation. In fact, lactoferrin levels in stool may be used as part of the diagnostic work-up for conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and some bacterial infections of the digestive tract.

What does the research say? While iron absorption is a well-established function of lactoferrin in the body, numerous research studies have uncovered a plethora of applications for this protein; from immune and gastrointestinal support, to antioxidant, bone and skin support. Lactoferrin’s properties are also being researched for use alongside chemotherapy treatment for cancer.

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Natural Growth Factors

Growth factors are so called because historically they have been identified by their ability to stimulate the growth of various cell lines in vitro but, in reality, the functions of these peptide-based molecules are considerably more diverse.

Different names have been ascribed to molecular species as they have been identified. As characterization has become more sophisticated, however, it is apparent that some of these differently named species are structurally and functionally similar and may, in fact, be identical.  

Although there are many similarities among species, there are also marked species differences in the nature and concentration of growth factor constituents, eg, human colostrum has much higher concentrations of EGF than does the bovine equivalent, whereas the reverse is true for insulin-like growth factor (IGF) I and II.



A protein that is made by B cells and plasma cells (types of white blood cells) and helps the body fight infection. Some immunoglobulins may be found in higher than normal amounts in patients with certain conditions or certain types of cancer, including multiple myeloma and Waldenstrom macroglobulinemia. Measuring the amount of specific immunoglobulins in the blood and urine may help diagnose cancer or find out how well treatment is working or if cancer has come back. Some immunoglobulins may be used as tumor markers also called Ig.

Immunoglobulins form an important component of the immunological activity found in colostrum. They are central to the immunological link that occurs when the mother transfers passive immunity to the offspring. The mechanism of transfer varies among mammalian species. Bovine provide a readily available immune rich colostrum and milk in large quantities, making those secretions important potential sources of immune products that may benefit humans.


Oligosaccharides are chains of carbohydrates made up of three to 10 simple sugars, which are also known as monosaccharides that can act as prebiotics in the body, feeding your gut bacteria. The large majority of oligosaccharides cannot be broken down by the human digestive tract. Instead, they travel through your gut all the way to the colon, where they feed and support the growth of beneficial bacteria. Because of this, oligosaccharides are considered prebiotics and a source of prebiotic fiber.

Bovine colostrum is a rich source of complex and highly selective oligosaccharides and glycans. The concentration of oligosaccharides in colostrum is the majority of these structures are acidic oligosaccharides which are lower in mature bovine milk.

There has been significant interest in utilizing milk and colostrum as a source of BMOs for human nutrition and health to modulate the GI microbiome. In contrast to HMOs, BMOs are predominantly sialylated (i.e., acidic) oligosaccharides, with a low propensity for fucosylation and a lower structural diversity. Recent advancements in enzymatic glycosylation have provided opportunities for the structural enhancement of BMOs to alter their structure to resemble HMOs. Several complexities in milk processing have thus far limited the ability of BMOs to be separated from lactose found at high concentrations in milk, though solutions have begun to emerge which complicates their utility for human nutrition and health. Further, though pilot experiments with purified BMOs in adults have not yet demonstrated generalizable changes to GI microbial populations, future work in infants may be more promising as recent in vitro experiments with BMOs are more promising. 


Proline-rich Peptide

Proline-rich peptides (PRPs) include a large and heterogeneous group of small-medium sized peptides characterized by the presence of proline residues often constituting peculiar sequences. This feature confers them a typical structure that determines the various biological functions endowed by these molecules. In particular the left-handed-polyproline-II helix is essential for the expression of the antimicrobial, immunomodulatory, antioxidant properties and to finely modulate protein-protein interactions, thus playing crucial roles in many cell signal transduction pathways. These peptides are widely diffuse in the animal kingdom and in humans, where they are present in many tissues and biological fluids. This review highlights the most relevant biological properties of these peptides, focusing on the potential therapeutic role that the PRPs may play as a promising source of new peptidebased novel drugs.

Colostrinin was originally identified by scientists working in Poland in the 1970s. Colostrinin is derived from colostrum, which is present in the pre-milk fluid produced from mammary glands in the first few days after parturition. It is also known as proline-rich polypeptides, since sequence analysis of the peptides present in this mixture reveals an unusually high proportion of this amino acid residue. The amino acid compositions of Colostrinin from ovine, bovine, and human colostrum are very similar. Colostrinin was first characterized in animal and in-vitro studies as a substance that generally stimulates the immune response. Such an immunomodulatory action may be important in the treatment of a variety of diseases and is consistent with the beneficial effect of colostrum in promoting the development of the immune system in newborn mammals.



Cytokines transmit various signals for cell survival, proliferation, differentiation, and functional activity, circulate in picomolar concentrations, and may increase in magnitude almost a thousand-fold in response to an infection or inflammation.

Cytokines are crucial in controlling the growth and activity of the immune system cells and blood cells. They can be used to treat cancer and/or help prevent or manage chemotherapy side effects when injected, either subcutaneously, intramuscularly, or intravenously. They also help to boost anti-cancer activity by sending signals that can cause abnormal cell death and increase the longevity of normal cells.

Base on recent studies, Bovine colostrum contains high concentrations of cytokines, and colostral cytokines are considered to be an important factor in stimulation of maturation of the immune system in newborns.  Cytokines can exert systemic as well as local effects. A cytokine's actions may affect the same cell it was secreted from, other nearby cells or may act in a more endocrine manner and produce effects across the whole of the body, such as in the case of fever, for example. Cytokines have a large distribution of sources for their production, with nearly all cells that have a nucleus capable of producing interleukin 1 (IL-1), interleukin 6 (IL-6), and tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α), particularly endothelial cells, epithelial cells, and resident macrophages.


Arslan, A., Kaplan, M., Duman, H., Bayraktar, A., Ertürk, M., Henrick, B. M., Frese, S. A., & Karav, S. (2021). Bovine Colostrum and Its Potential for Human Health and Nutrition. Frontiers in Nutrition, 8.

C. (2022, October 20). Lactoferrin - 14 things you need to know. Cytoplan.

CSL Behring. (2022, April 20). Explainer: What Is Immunoglobulin?

Hurley, W. L., & Theil, P. K. (2011). Perspectives on Immunoglobulins in Colostrum and Milk. Nutrients, 3(4), 442–474.

Janusz, M., & Zablocka, A. (2010). Colostral Proline-Rich Polypeptides – Immunoregulatory Properties and Prospects of Therapeutic Use in Alzheimers Disease. Current Alzheimer Research, 7(4), 323–333.

NCI Dictionary of Cancer Terms. (n.d.). National Cancer Institute. (2022, September 2). What are Cytokines?

Playford, R. J., Macdonald, C. E., & Johnson, W. S. (2000). Colostrum and milk-derived peptide growth factors for the treatment of gastrointestinal disorders. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 72(1), 5–14.

Wikipedia contributors. (2022, August 23). Colostrinin. Wikipedia.

Yamanaka, H., Hagiwara, K., Kirisawa, R., & Iwai, H. (2003). Proinflammatory Cytokines in Bovine Colostrum Potentiate the Mitogenic Response of Peripheral Blood Mononuclear Cells from Newborn Calves through IL-2 and CD25 Expression. Microbiology and Immunology, 47(6), 461–468.

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