species: pigs

Gut Check: Polyamines in Human Milk Are Essential for Intestinal Maturation

Gut Check: Polyamines in Human Milk Are Essential for Intestinal Maturation

Putrescine, spermine, and spermidine may not have the most appetizing names, but these amino-acid derived molecules (called polyamines) are ingredients of all mammal milks. The presence of polyamines in milk is not surprising—putrescine, spermine, and spermidine are manufactured by all mammalian body cells, including mammary tissue. But polyamines are not accidental milk ingredients, passed on simply because they are ubiquitous in mammalian cells. Research from human and non-human animal models demonstrates that optimal nutrient absorption, the composition of the intestinal microbiome, and even food allergy may all depend on a sufficient supply of polyamines during the neonatal period. Milk polyamines, although odd in name, are essential for the proper maturation of the gastrointestinal tract in humans and other mammals. Read More...

Lactoferrin and Milk Fat Globule Membrane Improve Gut and Brain Development in Piglets

Lactoferrin and Milk Fat Globule Membrane Improve Gut and Brain Development in Piglets

Infants develop rapidly in the first six months after birth, and breastfeeding has been shown to improve various aspects of this early development. Researchers have made efforts to figure out which components of human milk contribute to these beneficial effects. A pair of recent studies find that adding prebiotics and two compounds typically enriched in human milk to piglets’ diets can improve their gut and brain development. Read More...

Prolactin: One Hormone, Many Effects

Prolactin: One Hormone, Many Effects

Hormones are the body’s bike messengers, carrying important information from the endocrine glands (e.g., thyroid, pituitary, ovaries) to tissues throughout the body. Whereas GPS helps bike messengers find their intended recipients, hormones know they have found their target tissue when they are able to bind to hormonal receptors attached to a cell’s surface. Like a key fitting into a lock, hormones only bind to their specific receptor. Turning the key and opening the receptor’s lock allows the hormone to deliver its message to the cell, which responds by taking a particular action. The lactation hormone prolactin (PRL) has more than one target tissue, with prolactin receptors (PRLR) found in mammary glands, intestines, kidneys, ovaries, and even the heart. Mammary gland cells respond to PRL’s signal by secreting milk and initiating lactation, whereas cells of the intestines respond by increasing their absorption of calcium. How does the same hormonal signal result in the delivery of such different messages? Read More...

Training Your Body to Digest Lactose

Training Your Body to Digest Lactose

The common understanding of the inability to properly digest lactose is that it’s all about genetics: either a particular gene in cells lining your upper intestine—which enables everyone to digest lactose as an infant—becomes inactive as you grow up, or it doesn’t. But the truth is less cut and dry. In fact, there is some recent and gathering evidence to suggest that those who suffer the symptoms of lactose intolerance could be better off by frequently consuming small quantities of the sugar that bothers them. Read More...

Fats, Formula, and Brainy Babies

Fats, Formula, and Brainy Babies

Can infant formula be boosted to prevent formula-fed babies from missing out on the brain-stimulating ingredients of breast milk? Seeking to answer this important question, a new study found that a supplement of naturally occurring milk fats improved the brain development and certain cognitive abilities in newborn piglets. Read More...

Stop, Slow, & Go: Hormonal Signals from Mother’s Milk

Stop, Slow, & Go: Hormonal Signals from Mother's Milk

Hormones are not just for women! From babies to the elderly, both females and males have these chemical messengers circulating throughout their bodies. Astonishingly, milk contains hormones too. Read More...

Hidden Farmyard Sugars

Hidden Farmyard Sugars

In recent years, lactation science has paid great attention to the 200-odd medium-sized sugar molecules found in human breast milk. This is because these oligosaccharides, the sugars in the milk, (as the sugars are formally termed) have important roles in promoting infant health. These roles hinge on their structure, but until now, it was always understood that the oligosaccharides of domestic animals were rather dull by comparison to those found in human breast milk. However, a recent survey of the milk of cows, sheep, pigs, horses, goats, and dromedary camels has uncovered hitherto unknown diversity. Read More...