Residents or Tourists: Is the Lactating Mammary Gland Colonized by Residential Microbiota?

Ruomei Xu, Grace McLoughlin, Mark Nicol, Donna Geddes, Lisa Stinson

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

Abstract

The existence of the human milk microbiome has been widely recognized for almost two decades, with many studies examining its composition and relationship to maternal and infant health. However, the richness and viability of the human milk microbiota is surprisingly low. Given that the lactating mammary gland houses a warm and nutrient-rich environment and is in contact with the external environment, it may be expected that the lactating mammary gland would contain a high biomass microbiome. This discrepancy raises the question of whether the bacteria in milk come from true microbial colonization in the mammary gland ("residents") or are merely the result of constant influx from other bacterial sources ("tourists"). By drawing together data from animal, in vitro, and human studies, this review will examine the question of whether the lactating mammary gland is colonized by a residential microbiome.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1009
Number of pages16
JournalMicroorganisms
Volume12
Issue number5
Early online date17 May 2024
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - May 2024

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