The present review is focused on the clinical significance of lactoferrin in pancreatic secretions and stone formation in chronic pancreatitis, and of serum anti-lactoferrin antibody in autoimmune pancreatitis. Lactoferrin secretion is increased in pancreatic secretions in calcified and non-calcified chronic pancreatitis. Lactoferrin, pancreatic stone protein and trypsin are present in pancreatic stones. We cannot conclude which protein is more important for the precipitate and stone formation. The presence of antilactoferrin antibody has been reported in serum in autoimmune diseases, such as autoimmune pancreatitis. The coincidental appearance of autoimmune pancreatitis with extrapancreatic autoimmune diseases strongly suggests a common autoimmune mechanism and lactoferrin is a candidate antigen. Lactoferrin may play an important role as a precipitate protein in pancreatic stone formation in chronic pancreatitis and as an autoantigen in autoimmune pancreatitis. Further studies are required to better understand the role of lactoferin.
Motoji Kitagawa, Hiroshi Ishiguro, Chun Xiang Jin, Tetsuo Hayakawa