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- Ward, P.P., Paz, E. & Conneely, O.M. Cell. Mol. Life Sci. (2005) 62: 2540. doi:10.1007/s00018-005-5369-8
Lactoferrin (LF) is a member of the transferrin family that is expressed and secreted by glandular epithelial cells and is found in the secondary granules of neutrophils. Originally viewed as an iron-binding protein in milk, with bacteriostatic properties, it is becoming increasingly evident that LF is a multifunctional protein to which several physiological roles have been attributed. These include regulation of iron homeostasis, host defense against a broad range of microbial infections, anti-inflammatory activity, regulation of cellular growth and differentiation and protection against cancer development and metastasis. While iron binding is likely central to some of the biological roles of LF, other activities, including specific interactions with mammalian receptors and microbial components, also contribute to the pleoitropic functional nature of this protein. In this article, recent advances in the understanding of these functions at the cellular and molecular level are discussed.