Let’s take a deeper look at the immune factors from colostrum and what exactly they do. Some immune factors are immuno-regulating substances and help in the functions of the immune system. Other factors are more localized and area specific in the body; some of those factors are gut protective substances.
Thymosin (alpha & beta chains). A hormone composed of two protein-based chains that are separately present in bovine colostrum. The chains act on the thymus gland independently or in concert with each other to stimulate activation, development and maintenance of the immune system.
Proline-rich peptide (PRP) , a/k/a thymulin. A hormone-like small protein that acts upon the thymus and other organs associated with the immune system to keep them from over-reacting to an insult.
Cytokines. Small proteins produced by various cells in the body that induce the generation of specialized types of white blood cells, signal them to come to the site of an insult and help in their passage through tissues.
Lymphokines – Different types of white blood cells produce varying sizes of these proteins. These proteins inform related cells to transform in such a way that makes them more functional in releasing substances that can destroy invading microorganisms.
Gut protective substances.
Immunoglobulins (IgG, IgM, IgA). Complex proteins, better known as antibodies, that make up a significant portion of the proteins found in complete first milking colostrum. These antibodies were produced by the mother’s immune system in response to her exposure to many different microorganisms during her lifetime and then transferred into the colostrum prior to birth of the calf. There is no evidence that any of these antibodies are found intact in the blood of individuals who ingest colostrum by mouth. However, many of these antibodies are reactive against bacteria, viruses and fungi that infect the gastrointestinal tract of humans and there is scientific evidence that some of them can survive passage through the digestive system.
Transfer Factors – These small proteins are created as the body responds to exposure of specific types of microorganisms, especially microorganisms that live for long periods of time in deep tissues. These proteins are limited in their effectiveness in defending against microorganisms; instead, they act with a variety of white blood cells as they strive to keep microorganisms in check.
Lactoferrin – This protein attaches to iron, and it is very effective when certain aerobic bacterias require iron for reproduction. Lactoferrin can impede the growth of microorganisms in the gut when working with a specific antibody.
Transferrin – This protein also attaches to iron and can either act on its own or combine forces with Lactoferrin. When in action, it impedes the growth of aerobic bacteria, specifically in the gut area.
Lysozyme. A very powerful enzyme that is capable of attaching itself to the cell wall of certain pathogenic bacteria and degrading selected proteins, leaving holes in the wall of the bacteria.
Lactoperoxidase – This mildly effective enzyme can attach itself and interfere with the replication of degrading proteins and bacteria
Xanthine Oxidase – This mildly effective enzyme is similar in effect to Lactoperoxidase, because it can also attach itself and interfere with the replication of different degrading proteins and bacteria than Lactoperoxidase.
White blood cells (leukocytes). Primarily three types of functional white blood cells are present in colostrum, including neutrophils, macrophages and polymorphonuclear cells. Each has the ability to phagocytize microorganisms and other foreign bodies and apply substances carried internally to the destruction of the microorganisms. Their functions are dramatically enhanced when antibodies first attach to the microorganisms.
Oligosaccharides and Glycoconjugates – These complex carbohydrates adhere to the inner surface of the gastrointestinal tract to prevent microorganisms from attaching.