Lactoferrin for Mental Health: Neuro-Redox Regulation and Neuroprotective Effects across the Blood-Brain Barrier with Special Reference to Neuro-COVID-19.

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Overall mental health depends in part on the blood-brain barrier, which regulates nutrient transfer in-and-out of the brain and its central nervous system. Lactoferrin, an innate metal-transport protein, synthesized in the substantia nigra, particularly in dopaminergic neurons and activated microglia is vital for brain physiology. Lactoferrin rapidly crosses the blood-brain barrier via receptor-mediated transcytosis and accumulates in the brain capillary endothelial cells. Lactoferrin receptors are additionally present on glioma cells, brain micro-vessels, and neurons. As a regulator of neuro-redox, microglial lactoferrin is critical for protection/repair of neurons and healthy brain function. Iron imbalance and oxidative stress are common among patients with neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, depression, and multiple sclerosis. As an endogenous iron-chelator, lactoferrin prevents iron accumulation and dopamine depletion in Parkinson’s disease patients. Oral lactoferrin supplementation could modulate the p-Akt/PTEN pathway, reduce Aβ deposition, and ameliorate cognitive decline in Alzheimer’s disease. Novel lactoferrin-based nano-therapeutics have emerged as effective drug-delivery systems for clinical management of neurodegenerative disorders. Recent emergence of the Coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, initially considered a respiratory illness, demonstrated a broader virulence spectrum with the ability to cross the blood-brain barrier and inflict a plethora of neuropathological manifestations in the brain – the Neuro-COVID-19. Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infections are widely reported in Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, and multiple sclerosis patients with aggravated clinical outcomes. Lactoferrin, credited with several neuroprotective benefits in the brain could serve as a potential adjuvant in the clinical management of Neuro-COVID-19.

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Authors: Sreus A G Naidu, Taylor C Wallace, Kelvin J A Davies, A Satyanarayan Naidu