Lactoferrin (Lf) is an 80 kDa iron-binding glycoprotein of the transferrin family, which was first isolated from milk by Groves. Lf is abundant in milk and other biological fluids, such as tears, saliva, mucous, pancreatic juice, bile and so on. Lf is a protein with multiple biological functions, and it is not only involved in iron transport, but also has immune response, tioxidant activities, antimicrobial activities, especially in anticarcinogenic activities[2–6]. Bezault found that Lf made solid tumor growth decreased and strongly inhibited experimental metastasis in mice. In addition, Campbell had demonstrated that Lf may be down-regulated in some cancers, such as human breast carcinoma and showed that it may regulate cell proliferation.
As a vital role in food, proteins were able to form gels and emulsions, which allowed them to be an important material for the encapsulation of bioactive compounds[9, 10].
One of the significant efforts towards this aim had been the use of colloidal delivery systems such as liposomes, micro- or nanoparticles. There had been considerable interest in liposomes, as they may be used for protection in food and pharmacy system[13–16]. Besides, nanoliposomes had the advantages of nanoparticles, which improved the targeting and absorption into the intestinal epithelial cells[17, 18]. In this case, nanoliposomes could be used as a potential carrier in food system.
The aim of present study was to choose the best method to develop the Lf nanoliposomes and investigate the stability of Lf nanoliposomes under different conditions, especially in the simulated gastrointestinal tract. The nanoliposomes were characterized by means of encapsulation efficiency and particle size. Furthermore, the Lf nanoliposomes were investigated to evaluate the cellular uptake and the effect on tumor cells.