Lactoferrin quantification in cattle faeces by ELISA

Andrew S. Cooke*, Kathryn A. Watt, Greg F. Albery, Eric R. Morgan, Jennifer A.J. Dungait

*Corresponding author for this work

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Background: Promoting and maintaining health is critical to ruminant welfare and productivity. Within human medicine, faecal lactoferrin is quantified for routine assessment of various gastrointestinal illnesses avoiding the need for blood sampling. This approach might also be adapted and applied for non-invasive health assessments in animals. Methods: In this proof-of-concept study, a bovine lactoferrin enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISA), designed for serum and milk, was applied to a faecal supernatant to assess its potential for quantifying lactoferrin in the faeces of cattle. Faecal lactoferrin concentrations were compared to background levels to assess the viability of the technique. A comparison was then made against serum lactoferrin levels to determine if they were or were not reflective of one another. Results: The optical densities of faecal samples were significantly greater than background readings, supporting the hypothesis that the assay was effective in quantifying faecal lactoferrin (T13, 115 = 11.99, p < 0.0005). The mean faecal lactoferrin concentration was 0.269 μg mL-1 (S.E. 0.031) and the mean serum concentration 0.074 μg mL-1 (S.E. 0.005). Lactoferrin concentrations of faecal and serum samples, taken from the same animals on the same day, were significantly different (T21 = 2.20, p = 0.039) and did not correlate (r = 0.2699, p = 0.238). Conclusion: Results support the hypothesis that lactoferrin can be quantified in cattle faeces by ELISA. Whilst further research is required to determine the physiological source of the lactoferrin, this highlights the potential of the method for non-invasive assessment of cattle immunology and pathology.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere8631
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - 27 Feb 2020


  • Agriculture
  • Animals
  • Ecology
  • Immunology
  • Livestock
  • One-health
  • Veterinary medicine
  • Veterinary science
  • Zoology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)


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