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    Taste and smell abnormalities (TSA) are common in patients receiving chemotherapy and may lead to altered nutritional intake, treatment withdrawal, and impaired quality of life. Lipid peroxidation in the oral cavity is one cause of TSA. Lactoferrin (LFN), an iron-binding salivary protein, reduces production of lipid oxidation byproducts and has been shown to reduce perception of unpleasant flavors. To assess the feasibility of LFN as a treatment for TSA, we conducted pilot investigations among patients with cancer who self-reported TSA following onset of chemotherapy. The primary objective was to assess change in subjective taste and smell perception from baseline to completion of 30 days of LFN supplementation. Patients were treated with 750 mg LFN daily for 30 days and followed for an additional 30 days without LFN. TSA was measured via the taste and smell questionnaire (TSQ) including taste (score 0-10), smell (score 0-6), and composite scores (0-16) (0 = no TSA) at baseline, day 30, and day 60. A total of 26 patients enrolled; 19 remained on study at day 30 and 17 at day 60. Baseline mean TSQ scores were 6.5 (taste), 3.1 (smell), and 9.6 (composite). By day 30, mean composite TSQ score improved by 1.7 (p = 0.018); taste and smell improved by 0.6 (p = 0.062) and 1.1 (p = 0.042), respectively. From baseline to day 60, mean composite TSQ score improved by 3.8 (p < 0.0001); taste and smell improved by 1.9 (p = 0.001) and 1.8 (p = 0.003). Further evaluation of LFN is warranted to determine its value for improving self-reported TSA among patients receiving chemotherapy. © 2021. The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature.


    Glenn J Lesser, Megan B Irby, Richard C Taylor, Anna Snavely, Douglas Case, Aili Wang, Andrea Dietrich, Susan Duncan. Lactoferrin supplementation for taste and smell abnormalities among patients receiving cancer chemotherapy. Supportive care in cancer : official journal of the Multinational Association of Supportive Care in Cancer. 2022 Mar;30(3):2017-2025

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    PMID: 34642792

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