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Human milk contains several bioactive proteins, including lactoferrin (LF) and osteopontin (OPN). These two proteins have been shown to form a complex, which shows increased bioactivities. Bovine LF and OPN can also form such a complex. We assessed bioactivities of the bovine LF-OPN complex (at molar ratios of LF:OPN = 3:1, 5:1, or 8:1) in a formula protein matrix, including LF, OPN, bovine whey protein hydrolysate, and α-lactalbumin. Our results show that the bovine LF-OPN complex together with formula proteins is resistant to in vitro digestion, stimulates intestinal cell proliferation (by 15-50%) and differentiation (by 30-50%), increases antibacterial activity (by 25-50%), and enhances intestinal immunity. The 3:1 ratio of LF to OPN exhibits the most potent effects, as compared with the other two ratios. In conclusion, adding bovine LF and OPN to infant formulas may result in increased stability of the two components and enhanced bioactivities, possibly improving outcomes in formula-fed infants.


Rulan Jiang, Lan Liu, Xiaogu Du, Bo Lönnerdal. Evaluation of Bioactivities of the Bovine Milk Lactoferrin-Osteopontin Complex in Infant Formulas. Journal of agricultural and food chemistry. 2020 Jun 03;68(22):6104-6111

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PMID: 32362125

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