subject: immune system

Milk for Ill and Pre-Term Infants

Milk for Ill and Pre-Term Infants

Unadulterated, fresh, and straight from the breast, experts agree that human milk is the best option for healthy infants. Not only does it provide the macronutrients essential to fuel and build young bodies, it actively stops infants from getting sick by dosing them with immunoglobulins and sugars that are indigestible by humans. A recent review offers a summary aimed at clinicians about how human milk may be modified to cater for the particular needs of pre-term and sick infants. Read More...

Milk’s Bioactive Ingredients Help Wounds Heal Faster

Milk’s Bioactive Ingredients Help Wounds Heal Faster

They say time heals all wounds. But can milk help those wounds heal faster? Noting milk's ability to stimulate and support the development of an infant's immune system, researchers posed the simple, but elegant, hypothesis that milk could accelerate the healing process by enhancing the body's immune response. Read More...

A Human Milk Oligosaccharide Protects Against Intestinal Infection and Inflammation

A Human Milk Oligosaccharide Protects Against Intestinal Infection and Inflammation

Sugars found in human milk, called human milk oligosaccharides (HMOs), have various protective effects against intestinal infections. A new study finds that the HMO 2'-fucosyllactose (2'-FL) protects against infection and inflammation caused by the pathogen Campylobacter jejuni. Read More...

The Dynamic Human Milk Proteome

The Dynamic Human Milk Proteome

Babies change a great deal in six months. Beyond the obvious that they grow bigger, considerable development occurs in all aspects of the infant’s physiology and anatomy, especially the brain, gastrointestinal tract, and immune system. New technologies have enabled scientists to discover which proteins are in milk and how they change over time to support this unique developmental period. Read More...

Maternal Milk Antibodies Prepare Newborn Mice to Host Commensal Gut Microbes

Maternal Milk Antibodies Prepare Newborn Mice to Host Commensal Gut Microbes

Our immune system protects us from many harmful microbes, but in doing so it needs to be able to differentiate between friend and foe. Our bodies harbor many beneficial gut bacteria that play important roles in digestion and immunity, and our immune system needs to react differently to these microbes compared with harmful pathogens. Read More...

Accounting for Lactase Mutants

Accounting for Lactase Mutants

Back in the 50s and 60s, work on lactose intolerance was often published under cringeworthy and blunt racial titles. A Nature article from 1969 sums it up with ‘Can Asians Digest Milk?’ It was also probably a subliminal non-accident that ‘lactose intolerance’—which is the typical condition for adult humans—became common parlance for a trait for which those with northern European ancestry are the real mutants. Many decades on, the genetic basis of the ability to digest lactose has been largely pinned down. As it turns out, there are different genetic reasons for the mutants’ lactose tolerance in the various populations that drink milk without intestinal incident, and the gene that confers mutant power in Europeans is only part of the story. That research history is discussed below, along with recent work that has extended the field’s reach beyond genetics. Investigations of the transcontinental basis of lactose tolerance are now providing insights into mankind’s cultural, as well as biological evolution. Read More...

Producing Human Milk Sugars for Use in Formula

Producing Human Milk Sugars for Use in Formula

It’s well known that human milk is good for you (1-5). Sugars, called oligosaccharides, form the third largest component of human milk and have been associated with many beneficial effects. These human milk oligosaccharides (HMOs) have been shown to influence the composition of the gut microbiome, modulate the immune system, and help protect against pathogens (6-11, 22) Given the various benefits of HMOs, there has been a lot of interest in figuring out how to introduce HMOs into formula. However, more than 200 human milk oligosaccharides have been discovered so far, and their variety and complexity makes them challenging to synthesize (21-23). Read More...

Milk Sugars May Help Pre-term Babies Fight Fungal Infection

Milk Sugars May Help Pre-term Babies Fight Fungal Infection

The human body is a host for billions of microbes, including the very common fungus, Candida albicans. Harmless most of the time, these yeast cells may suddenly transform into many cells, chained together as long and branching filaments that invade body tissues. This has been reported in many vulnerable individuals, including pre-term babies. A recent study by Gonia et al. found that, in the laboratory, human milk oligosaccharides protect cells, similar to intestinal cells from pre-term babies, against infection with Candida albicans. Read More...

Probiotics May Work Better with Milk

Probiotics May Work Better with Milk

We respond differently to different environments; we might put on a thick coat when it’s cold, or open an umbrella when it’s raining. It turns out that probiotic bacteria also react differently depending on their environment, and this could have important implications for how we consume probiotics. Two new studies led by Maria Marco from the University of California, Davis, found that probiotic bacteria showed improved survival and efficacy when delivered through milk rather than in another medium. Read More...

Human Milk Sugars Can Protect Against Food Allergies in Mice

Human Milk Sugars Can Protect Against Food Allergies in Mice

Food allergies affect a substantial proportion of the population, and there are few treatments available. A new study finds that two sugars present in human milk can help protect against food allergies and reduce the severity of food allergy symptoms in mice. If the results can be replicated in humans, these milk sugars could potentially lead to new anti-allergy therapies. Read More...