The gut‒breast axis: Programming health for life

Juan M. Rodríguez, Leónides Fernández, Valerie Verhasselt

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


The gut is a pivotal organ in health and disease. The events that take place in the gut during early life contribute to the programming, shaping and tuning of distant organs, having lifelong consequences. In this context, the maternal gut plays a quintessence in programming the mammary gland to face the nutritional, microbiological, immunological, and neuroendocrine requirements of the growing infant. Subsequently, human colostrum and milk provides the infant with an impressive array of nutrients and bioactive components, including microbes, immune cells, and stem cells. Therefore, the axis linking the maternal gut, the breast, and the infant gut seems crucial for a correct infant growth and development. The aim of this article is not to perform a systematic review of the human milk components but to provide an insight of their extremely complex interactions, which render human milk a unique functional food and explain why this biological fluid still truly remains as a scientific enigma.

Original languageEnglish
Article number606
Pages (from-to)1-23
Number of pages23
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2021


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