Human breast milk bacteriome in health and disease

Anna Ojo-Okunola, Mark Nicol, Elloise du Toit

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

10 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

It is well-known that, beyond nutritional components, human breast milk (HBM) contains a wide variety of non-nutritive bio-factors perfectly suited for the growing infant. In the pre-2000 era, HBM was considered sterile and devoid of micro-organisms. Though HBM was not included as part of the human microbiome project launched in 2007, great strides have been made in studying the bacterial diversity of HBM in both a healthy state and diseased state, and in understanding their role in infant health. HBM provides a vast array of beneficial micro-organisms that play a key role in colonizing the infant’s mucosal system, including that of the gut. They also have a role in priming the infant’s immune system and supporting its maturation. In this review, we provide an in-depth and updated insight into the immunomodulatory, metabolic, and anti-infective role of HBM bacteriome (bacterial community) and its effect on infant health. We also provide key information from the literature by exploring the possible origin of microbial communities in HBM, the bacterial diversity in this niche and the determinants influencing the HBM bacteriome. Lastly, we investigate the role of the HBM bacteriome in maternal infectious disease (human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and mastitis)), and cancer. Key gaps in HBM bacterial research are also identified.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1643
JournalNutrients
Volume10
Issue number11
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 3 Nov 2018
Externally publishedYes

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