Human milk oligosaccharides and infant growth

Editor(s): Sprenger N, Lee LY, De Castro CA, Steenhout P, Thakkar SK.

Longitudinal change of selected human milk oligosaccharides and association to infants' growth, an observatory, single center, longitudinal cohort study

Sprenger N, Lee LY, De Castro CA, Steenhout P, Thakkar SK


Human milk oligosaccharides are one of the most abundant components of breast milk. They are formed by lactose and N-acetyl glucosamine, galactose, sialic acid or fucose.  The enzymes that transfer fucose are determined by maternal genotype, and the genes FUT2 and FUT3 are responsible for the Secretor negative (FUT2-/-) and Lewis negative (FUT3-/-) glycosylation phenotypes. In women with functional FUT2 the major milk oligosaccharides are 2FL, LNFP1 and diFL. Some research has linked maternal secretor status to early establishment of bifidobacteria in the infant’s microbiota, which could have implications for infant growth and immune development. The objective of this work was to characterize the longitudinal changes in FUT2-dependent HMOs across lactation and explore association to infants’ early growth. The study took place in Singapore and included 50 mother-infant pairs during the first 4 months of lactation, which were divided in two groups: high or low 2FL in breastmilk as a proxy for secretor status.  LNT was the most prominent HMO in the low 2FL group, the content of 2FL, LNT, LnNT and 6’SL decreased across lactation while 3’SL remained constant.  In this cohort with healthy term infants, there were no differences in growth z-scores between groups consuming milk with low or high FUT2.

PLoS One. 2017 Feb 9;12(2):e0171814. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0171814. eCollection 2017.
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