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Breast milk found to contain anti-inflammatory molecules

Posted:  Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Research has enlisted breast milk to be the best milk for infants for many reasons. Now researchers from Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH) have provided yet another reason to hail breast milk. Their latest study finds breast milk to be a storehouse of molecules known as specialized pro-resolving mediators (SPMs) which were shown to clear infections, reduce inflammation, combat pain and heal wounds.

The results of the study were reported in the journal Mucosal Immunology. The researchers used a comprehensive profiling technique to find that breast milk contains 20 SPMs. The researchers tested the contributions of samples from breast milk; individual molecules present in both animal and cellular models of infection and also measured the length of time until resolution.

They also evaluated the concentration of SPMs in breast milk with mastitis. They found the levels to be lower when compared to normal samples. Incredibly, the SPMs from the mastitis sample did not resolve inflammation and infection to the extent of breast milk derived from normal samples.

Evaluation of cow milk and infant formula revealed the lack of SPMs. The researchers are calling for further research to understand the mechanism by which SPMs help the infant’s immune system. In a parting statement, the researchers said, "Our results suggest a role for SPM in modulating inflammation, infection and stimulating resolution during early immune development, and further reinforce the importance of human breast milk for infants."

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