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The oral cavity is a non-uniform, extraordinary environment characterized by mucosal, epithelial, abiotic surfaces and secretions as saliva. Aerobic and anaerobic commensal and pathogenic microorganisms colonize the tongue, teeth, jowl, gingiva, and periodontium. Commensals exert an important role in host defenses, while pathogenic microorganisms can nullify this protective function causing oral and systemic diseases. Every day, 750–1000 mL of saliva, containing several host defense constituents including lactoferrin (Lf), are secreted and swallowed. Lf is a multifunctional iron-chelating cationic glycoprotein of innate immunity. Depending on, or regardless of its iron-binding ability, Lf exerts bacteriostatic, bactericidal, antibiofilm, antioxidant, antiadhesive, anti-invasive, and anti-inflammatory activities. Here, we report the protective role of Lf in different oral pathologies, such as xerostomia, halitosis, alveolar or maxillary bone damage, gingivitis, periodontitis, and black stain. Unlike antibiotic therapy, which is ineffective against bacteria that are within a biofilm, adherent, or intracellular, the topical administration of Lf, through its simultaneous activity against microbial replication, biofilms, adhesion, and invasiveness, as well as inflammation, has been proven to be efficient in the treatment of all known oral pathologies without any adverse effects.


La cavité buccale constitue un environnement non uniforme et extraordinaire caractérisé par des surfaces muqueuses, épithéliales, abiotiques et des sécrétions comme la salive. Les microorganismes aérobies et anaérobies commensaux et pathogènes colonisent la langue, les dents, l’intérieur des joues, les gencives et le parodonte. Les commensaux jouent un rôle important dans les défenses de l’hôte alors que les microorganismes pathogènes peuvent annuler cette fonction protectrice, provoquant des maladies bucco-dentaires et systémiques. Chaque jour, 750–1000 ml de salive contenant plusieurs constituants de la défense de l’hôte, dont la lactoferrine (Lf), sont sécrétés et avalés. La Lf est une glycoprotéine cationique multifonctionnelle de l’immunité innée chélatrice de fer. En fonction ou indépendamment de sa capacité de lier le fer, la Lf exerce des activités bactériostatiques, bactéricides, antibiofilm, antioxydantes, antiadhésives, anti-invasives et anti-inflammatoires. Les auteurs rapportent ici le rôle protecteur de la Lf dans différentes pathologies buccales telles que la xérostomie, l’halitose, les lésions osseuses alvéolaires ou maxillaires, la gingivite, la parodontite et la coloration noire. Contrairement à l’antibiothérapie, qui est inefficace contre les bactéries d’un biofilm, les bactéries adhérentes et celles ayant un mode de vie intracellulaire, l’administration topique de Lf, grâce à son activité simultanée contre la multiplication microbienne, le biofilm, l’adhérence, l’invasion de même que l’inflammation, s’est avérée efficace dans le traitement de toutes ces pathologies buccales sans aucun effet indésirable. [Traduit par la Rédaction]

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Published In

cover image Biochemistry and Cell Biology
Biochemistry and Cell Biology
Volume 99Number 1February 2021
Pages: 81 - 90


Received: 11 February 2020
Accepted: 19 March 2020
Accepted manuscript online: 26 March 2020
Version of record online: 26 March 2020


This Review is one of a selection of papers from the 14th International Conference on Lactoferrin, held in Lima, Peru, 4–8 November 2019.


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Key Words

  1. lactoferrin
  2. inflammation
  3. gingivitis
  4. periodontitis
  5. black stain


  1. lactoferrine
  2. inflammation
  3. gingivite
  4. parodontite
  5. coloration noire



Luigi Rosa
Department of Public Health and Infectious Diseases, Sapienza University of Rome, Italy.
Maria Stefania Lepanto
Department of Public Health and Infectious Diseases, Sapienza University of Rome, Italy.
Antimo Cutone
Department of Biosciences and Territory, University of Molise, Pesche, Italy.
Giusi Ianiro
Department of Biosciences and Territory, University of Molise, Pesche, Italy.
Stefania Pernarella
Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Sciences, Sapienza University of Rome, Italy.
Riccardo Sangermano
Department of Public Health and Infectious Diseases, Sapienza University of Rome, Italy.
Giovanni Musci
Department of Biosciences and Territory, University of Molise, Pesche, Italy.
Livia Ottolenghi
Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Sciences, Sapienza University of Rome, Italy.
Piera Valenti [email protected]
Department of Public Health and Infectious Diseases, Sapienza University of Rome, Italy.


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