Lactose in Human Breast Milk an Inducer of Innate Immunity with Implications for a Role in Intestinal Homeostasis

Andreas Cederlund, Ylva Kai-Larsen*, Gordana Printz, Hiroyuki Yoshio, Gunvor Alvelius, Hugo Lagercrantz, Roger Strömberg, Hans Jörnvall, Gudmundur H. Gudmundsson, Birgitta Agerberth

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

60 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Postpartum, infants have not yet established a fully functional adaptive immune system and are at risk of acquiring infections. Hence, newborns are dependent on the innate immune system with its antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) and proteins expressed at epithelial surfaces. Several factors in breast milk are known to confer immune protection, but which the decisive factors are and through which manner they work is unknown. Here, we isolated an AMP-inducing factor from human milk and identified it by electrospray mass spectrometry and NMR to be lactose. It induces the gene (CAMP) that encodes the only human cathelicidin LL-37 in colonic epithelial cells in a dose- and time-dependent manner. The induction was suppressed by two different p38 antagonists, indicating an effect via the p38-dependent pathway. Lactose also induced CAMP in the colonic epithelial cell line T84 and in THP-1 monocytes and macrophages. It further exhibited a synergistic effect with butyrate and phenylbutyrate on CAMP induction. Together, these results suggest an additional function of lactose in innate immunity by upregulating gastrointestinal AMPs that may lead to protection of the neonatal gut against pathogens and regulation of the microbiota of the infant.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere53876
JournalPLoS ONE
Volume8
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 17 Jan 2013

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