Effect of lactoferrin on taste and smell abnormalities induced by chemotherapy: a proteome analysis
Cancer patients receiving chemotherapy often experience taste and smell abnormalities (TSA). To date, the underlying molecular mechanisms of this frequent side-effect have not been determined and effective treatments are not available. This study assessed the feasibility of lactoferrin (LF) supplementation as a treatment for TSA and investigate the related mechanisms through salivary proteome analysis. Nineteen cancer patients with established TSA following chemotherapy administration were enrolled in this study. Cancer patients and additional 12 healthy subjects took LF supplements, 3 tablets per day (250 mg per tablet), for 30 days. Saliva was collected at three timepoints: baseline, 30-day LF supplementation, and 30-day post-LF supplementation. Patient's TSA level, salivary proteome, and salivary minerals at each LF treatment stage were analyzed. High TSA level was associated with high concentration of salivary Fe and loss of critical salivary immune proteins. LF supplementation significantly decreased the concentration of salivary Fe (P = 0.025), increased the abundance (P < 0.05) of salivary α-amylase and Zn-α-2-GP, and led to an overall increase of expression (≥2-fold changes) of immune proteins including immunoglobulin heavy chain, annexin A1, and proteinase inhibitor. Abundance of α-amylase and SPLUNC2 were further increased (P < 0.05) at 30-day post-LF supplementation in cancer patients. At the same time, total TSA score was significantly reduced (P < 0.001) in chemotherapy patients. This study demonstrated the feasibility of developing lactoferrin supplementation as a treatment to reduce TSA caused by chemotherapy and improve cancer patient's oral immunity.