Host-microbe interactions in the neonatal intestine: role of human milk oligosaccharides. Academic Article uri icon


  • The infant intestinal microbiota is shaped by genetics and environment, including the route of delivery and early dietary intake. Data from germ-free rodents and piglets support a critical role for the microbiota in regulating gastrointestinal and immune development. Human milk oligosaccharides (HMO) both directly and indirectly influence intestinal development by regulating cell proliferation, acting as prebiotics for beneficial bacteria and modulating immune development. We have shown that the gut microbiota, the microbial metatranscriptome, and metabolome differ between porcine milk-fed and formula-fed (FF) piglets. Our goal is to define how early nutrition, specifically HMO, shapes host-microbe interactions in breast-fed (BF) and FF human infants. We an established noninvasive method that uses stool samples containing intact sloughed epithelial cells to quantify intestinal gene expression profiles in human infants. We hypothesized that a systems biology approach, combining i) HMO composition of the mother's milk with the infant's gut gene expression and fecal bacterial composition, ii) gene expression, and iii short-chain fatty acid profiles would identify important mechanistic pathways affecting intestinal development of BF and FF infants in the first few months of life. HMO composition was analyzed by HLPC Chip/time-of-flight MS and 3 HMO clusters were identified using principle component analysis. Initial findings indicated that both host epithelial cell mRNA expression and the microbial phylogenetic profiles provided strong feature sets that distinctly classified the BF and FF infants. Ongoing analyses are designed to integrate the host transcriptome, bacterial phylogenetic profiles, and functional metagenomic data using multivariate statistical analyses.

published proceedings

  • Adv Nutr

altmetric score

  • 4.25

author list (cited authors)

  • Donovan, S. M., Wang, M., Li, M., Friedberg, I., Schwartz, S. L., & Chapkin, R. S.

citation count

  • 91

complete list of authors

  • Donovan, Sharon M||Wang, Mei||Li, Min||Friedberg, Iddo||Schwartz, Scott L||Chapkin, Robert S

publication date

  • May 2012