Breast-feeding reduces the risk of enteric bacterial infections in newborns in part because of human milk oligosaccharides (HMOs), complex glycans that are present in human milk, but not in infant formula. Enteropathogenic Escherichia coli (EPEC) are attaching/effacing pathogens that cause serious diarrheal illness with potentially high mortality in infants. We isolated HMOs from pooled human milk and found that they significantly reduce EPEC attachment to cultured epithelial cells. In suckling mice, administration of HMOs significantly reduced colonization with EPEC compared with untreated controls. These data suggest an essential role for HMOs in the prevention of EPEC infections in human infants.
*Department of Medicine
†Department of Pediatrics, Division of Neonatology and Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, CA.
Address correspondence and reprint requests to Lars Bode, PhD, Department of Pediatrics, Division of Neonatology and Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition, University of California, San Diego, 200 West Arbor Drive, MC 8450, San Diego, CA 92103-8450 (e-mail: email@example.com).
Received 4 June, 2013
Accepted 26 August, 2013
This study is supported by NIH grants DK080506 and DK035108 to LE, and in part by Wyeth Nutrition a division of Nestle to LB. C.F.M. was supported by a fellowship from the German Research Foundation (MA 4980/1-1).
The authors report no conflict of interest.