Human milk contains an abundant supply and diverse array of oligosaccharides (HMOs) that are known to impart significant health benefits to the nursing infant including establishment and maintenance of a healthy gut microflora, immune development and protection against gastrointestinal infections.
When breast-feeding is not possible or insufficient, infant formulas are commonly used as an alternative. However, limited information is available about the presence of naturally occurring oligosaccharides in these infant formulas and their likely health benefits.
The present study examined the presence of naturally occurring oligosaccharides in commercial goat'smilk-based Stage 1 and Stage 2 infant formulas and their prebiotic and anti-infectionproperties. Liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry (LC/MS) was used to detect and quantify oligosaccharides and their prebiotic potential was assessed by their ability, at concentrations present in reconstituted ready-to-use infantformula, to promote the growth of Bifidobacterium animalis subsp. lactis BB12, Bifidobacterium longum BB536, Lactobacillus acidophilus 4461 and Lactobacillus casei 2607 in vitro.
For anti-infectionproperties, the ability of goat milk oligosaccharides to prevent the adhesion of Escherichia coli NCTC 10418 and a Salmonella typhimurium isolate to Caco-2 cells was investigated. The results showed the presence of 14 quantifiable oligosaccharides in stage-1 and stage-2 goat'smilk-basedinfantformula. This was similar to the numbers of oligosaccharides detected in the fresh goat's milk. Of these, five were structurally similar to those found in human milk. These oligosaccharides were shown to significantly enhance the growth of bifidobacteria and lactobacilli and reduce the adhesion of E. coli NCTC 10418 and S. typhimurium to Caco-2 cells.
Together, these results suggest that oligosaccharides naturally present in goat'smilk-basedinfantformula exhibit strong prebiotic and anti-pathogen adhesion properties and may confer gut health benefits to infants.
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