Bioactive Proteins in Human Milk: Mechanisms of Action

Bo Lönnerdal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

114 Scopus citations


Human milk contains a multitude of bioactive proteins, with very diverse functions. Some of these proteins are involved in the synthesis and expression of milk, but the majority appears to have evolved to provide physiological activities in the breast-fed infant. These activities are exerted by a wide variety of mechanisms and have largely been unraveled by in vitro studies. To be active in the gastrointestinal tract, these proteins must be able to resist proteolytic degradation, at least for some time. We have evaluated the human milk proteins lactoferrin, haptocorrin, α1-antitrypsin, and transforming growth factor -β in an in vitro digestion model, mimicking the conditions of the infant gastrointestinal milieu. These bioactive proteins are resistant against proteolysis and can remain intact or as larger fragments through passage of the gastrointestinal tract. In vitro digestibility assays can be helpful to assess which human milk proteins can resist proteolysis and to what extent.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Pediatrics
Issue number2 SUPPL.
StatePublished - Feb 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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