Lactoferrin (2015-16) Helpful for Dry Eye, Anti-Inflammation, Anti-Microbial


Learn more about dry eye syndrome.

Dry eye syndrome is one of the most common complaints to eye doctors. And patients who have cataract surgery frequently experience dry eye. Some people dislike having to use eye drops.

Researchers evaluated the use of lactoferrin, taken orally rather than in eye drops, to relieve the symptoms of dry eye, especially after cataract surgery.

Lactoferrin is a glycoprotein that binds to iron1. Glycoproteins are proteins with a sugar attached to them and they float around in cell membranes. They are naturally found in tears produced by the eyes' tear glands. They have anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory properties.

It's been noted that patients with chronic dry eyes have low levels of lactoferrin in their tear film which accounts for the typical redness and soreness experienced by those with dry eye syndrome.

In this randomized controlled trial 64 patients who did not already have dry eye syndrome and who were to have cataract (small incision type of surgery) were divided into those who received 350gm of postoperative lactoferrin and those who did not.

The researchers assessed the degree of dry eye symptoms after surgery by measuring several standard tests for dry eye: tear film break-up and a Schirmer test at day 7, 14, 30 and 60 after surgery.

They found that there was a statistically significant benefit to the patients who were given lactoferrin after surgery by both the tear film measurement and the Schirmer test. Both the quality and quantity of tears improved markedly.

Researchers: J. Devendra, S. Singh

Published: Effect of Oral Lactoferrin on Cataract Surgery Induced Dry Eye: A Randomised Controlled Trial, Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research, October, 2015.

Lactoferrin & Inflammation

Another study found that lactoferrin may be a useful therapy in controlling the release of neutrophil extracellular traps (NETs) that help support the immune system. Because of that capacity they may contribute to therapies in autoimmune or inflammatory-based diseases.

Researchers: K. Okubo, et al.

Published: Lactoferrin Suppresses Neutrophil Extracellular Traps Release in Inflammation, EBioMedicine, July 2016.

Lactoferrin's Other Actions

Lactoferrin is one of a group of biochemicals known as dinucleoside polyphosphates. These biochemicals are found not only in tears but in the aqueous humour in the eyeball and in the retina. Researchers have determined on the surface of the eye they stimulate tears, release of mucin and help wound healing. Lactoferrin has the additional capacity of being an anti-microbial agent.

Researchers: G. Carracedo, A. Crooke, et al.

Published: The role of dinucleoside polyphosphates on the ocular surface and other eye structures, Progress in Retinal and Eye Reseach, July, 2016.


1. R. Lauterbach, Lactoferrin - a glycoprotein of great therapeutic potentials, Developmental Period Medicine, 2016.