In this study, researchers at Soochow University in China investigated the effects of lactoferrin (LF) supplementation on atherosclerosis. They reported their findings in an article published in the Journal of Medicinal Food.
LF is a multifunctional glycoprotein in milk with beneficial effects on lipid metabolism.
However, whether LF can inhibit the development of atherosclerosis is yet to be explored.
The researchers fed 48 male apolipoprotein E?/? mice with a high-fat diet that contains 1.25 percent added cholesterol.
They divided the mice into four treatment groups: the group given distilled water (HFCD), the group given 2 mg/mL LF solution, the group given 10?mg/mL LF (MLF) and the group given 20?mg/mL LF (HLF) for 12 weeks.
The researchers conducted glucose tolerance tests (OGTT) at weeks 0, 4, 8 and 12 and measured serum, liver and fecal lipid levels at the end of the experiment.
They also conducted a pathological examination of the livers, whole aortas and aortic sinuses of the mice and measured the expression of proteins related to cholesterol synthesis, absorption and excretion.
The researchers reported no significant difference between the body weight, food intake and OGTT results of the four groups.
Compared with the HFCD group, the MLP and HLF groups had significantly reduced serum and liver cholesterol levels but significantly increased fecal cholesterol content.
Treatment with LF alleviated hepatic steatosis and lipid droplet formation, as evident in the MLF group.
LF also significantly decreased the average lesion areas in the whole aorta, especially in the MLF group.
LF decreased the expression of HMG-CoA reductase -- a rate-limiting enzyme involved in cholesterol synthesis -- in the liver but increased the expression of cholesterol 7-alpha hydroxylase, a rate-limiting enzyme involved in the synthesis of bile acid from cholesterol.
LF also decreased the expression of Niemann-Pick C1-like 1 protein, which binds to a critical mediator of cholesterol absorption, in the intestines.
Ling CJ, Min QQ, Yang JR, Zhang Z, Yang HH, Xu JY, Qin LQ. LACTOFERRIN ALLEVIATES THE PROGRESSION OF ATHEROSCLEROSIS IN APOE?/? MICE FED WITH HIGH-FAT/CHOLESTEROL DIET THROUGH CHOLESTEROL HOMEOSTASIS. Journal of Medicinal Food. 11 October 2019;22(10):1000–1008. DOI: 10.1089/jmf.2018.4389