Document Detail

The antimicrobial function of milk lipids.
MedLine Citation:
PMID:  11795045     Owner:  NLM     Status:  MEDLINE    
Milk lipids serve not only as nutrients but as antimicrobial agents that constitute a defense system against microbial infections that occur at mucosal surfaces. The lipid fraction of milk develops antimicrobial activity in the gastrointestinal tract of suckling neonates as a result of lipolytic activity which converts milk triglycerides to antimicrobial fatty acids and monoglycerides. Antimicrobial milk lipids may be particularly important in protecting infants with an inadequate secretory immune response from infection. The lipid-dependent antimicrobial activity of milk is due to medium-chain saturated and long-chain unsaturated fatty acids and their respective monoglycerides released by lipases in the gastrointestinal tract. The antimicrobial activity of fatty acids and monoglycerides is additive and consequently it is their combined concentration that determines the lipid-dependent antimicrobial activity of milk. Microbial inactivation occurs rapidly by membrane destabilization. The antimicrobial activity of milk lipids can be duplicated using purified fatty acids and monoglycerides. It should be possible, therefore, to supplement banked human milk to provide lipid-dependent antimicrobial activity from the moment of ingestion (Schanler et al., 1986). This could reduce the risk of viral transmission from mother to infant through milk. Milk lipids also could be adapted for use at mucosal surfaces other than those in the gastrointestinal tract to reduce vertical transmission of pathogens during birth.
C E Isaacs
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Publication Detail:
Type:  Journal Article; Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't; Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.; Review    
Journal Detail:
Title:  Advances in nutritional research     Volume:  10     ISSN:  0149-9483     ISO Abbreviation:  Adv Nutr Res     Publication Date:  2001  
Date Detail:
Created Date:  2002-01-17     Completed Date:  2002-08-01     Revised Date:  2008-11-21    
Medline Journal Info:
Nlm Unique ID:  7802764     Medline TA:  Adv Nutr Res     Country:  United States    
Other Details:
Languages:  eng     Pagination:  271-85     Citation Subset:  IM    
Department of Developmental Biochemistry, Institute for Basic Research, 1050 Forest Hill Road, Staten Island, NY 10314, USA.
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MeSH Terms
Antiviral Agents / therapeutic use
Infant, Newborn
Infectious Disease Transmission, Vertical / prevention & control*
Lipids / immunology*,  pharmacology,  therapeutic use
Milk, Human / chemistry*,  immunology
Grant Support
Reg. No./Substance:
0/Antiviral Agents; 0/Lipids

From MEDLINE®/PubMed®, a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine

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