Effect of lactoferrin on pediatric infections

Theresa Jean Ochoa

    Research output: ThesisDoctoral dissertation - Doctoral dissertation


    Every year 6 million children younger than 5 years of age die, almost exclusively in low and middle-income countries. The main causes of death are neonatal problems, pneumonia and diarrhea. Among those surviving, many suffer with long-term consequences in growth and development. Multiple preventive interventions have been designed to decrease mortality and disability in children. Among these, early and exclusive breastfeeding is one of the most important interventions to reduce neonatal and infant mortality. Human breast milk helps protect infants by serving as a source of nutrition uncontaminated by pathogens in addition to protection due to its multiple anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory and immunoregulatory components. Lactoferrin is one of the major factors responsible for these protective effects. The main biological properties of lactoferrin that contribute to its physiological functions are its high affinity for iron and its cationic character which is responsible for its ability to bind various cells, nucleic acids, proteins and other molecules. My early research has focused on the mechanisms of action of lactoferrin on enteric pathogens (Ochoa, 2003, 2006, 2009; Mosquito, 2010; Rivera, 2013). Based on these preliminary in vitro and animal studies, we hypothesize that lactoferrin given as an oral supplement to infants in resource-limited settings will improve their health by mimicking its protective roles in breast milk, decreasing the incidence and severity of common pediatric infections due to its antimicrobial and immunomodulatory properties. This PhD proposal will focus on lactoferrin effect on enteric and neonatal infections; it will have five chapters; the first two are based on previous and already published work, and the other three chapters are on ongoing and new work. (1) Determine the effect of bovine lactoferrin supplementation on prevention of diarrhea in children (Ochoa, 2013); (2) Determine the effect of bovine lactoferrin on prevention of neonatal infections (Ochoa, 2015); (3) Determine the effect of bovine lactoferrin on prevention of late-onset sepsis and improvement of neurodevelopment in preterm infants; (4) Determine the effect of breast milk lactoferrin on late-onset sepsis;( 5) Determine the effect of lactoferrin on pathogen-specific late-onset sepsis.
    Translated title of the contribution Effect van lactoferrine op pediatrische infecties
    Original languageEnglish
    QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
    Awarding Institution
    • KU Leuven
    • Jacobs, Jan, Supervisor
    • Jacobs, Jan, Supervisor, External person
    • Cosey, Veerle, Advisor, External person
    Award date15-May-2020
    Place of PublicationLeuven
    Publication statusPublished - 2020


    • B780-tropical-medicine


    Dive into the research topics of 'Effect of lactoferrin on pediatric infections'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this