Bovine lactoferrin was applied topically to the oral mucosa of Syrian hamsters and assessed for its ability to decrease the severity of chemotherapy-induced oral mucositis. Results indicated that the chemotherapy agent 5-fluorouracil (5-FU) administered to hamsters on days 0 and 2 produced severe leukopenia between days 4 and 7 of the trial, and that severity of oral mucositis coincided with the suppressed immune state in these animals. Bovine lactoferrin applied continuously to oral wounds in hamsters induced by a combination of chemotherapy treatment and mild abrasion of the cheek pouch, failed to decrease the severity of mouth ulcers relative to a group receiving BSA as a control protein source. Hamster cheek pouches treated twice daily with lactoferrin had a significantly worse condition score between days 6 and 8, and days 12 and 13 (p < 0.05 to p < 0.001), a higher ulcer score between days 6 and 15 (p < 0.05 to p < 0.001) and larger ulcer area between days 7 and 14 (p < 0.05 to p < 0.001) compared to animals administered the control protein. Body weight changes between treatment and control groups showed no significant difference over the trial period. In contrast to the pre-study hypothesis, we report a detrimental effect from topical administration of bovine lactoferrin to the wounded oral mucosa of immunocompromised hamsters.
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