Human milk secretory immunoglobulin A and lactoferrin N-glycans are altered in women with gestational diabetes mellitus

Jennifer T. Smilowitz, Sarah M. Totten, Jincui Huang, Dmitry Grapov, Holiday A. Durham, Carol J. Lammi-Keefe, Carlito B Lebrilla, J. Bruce German

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54 Scopus citations


Very little is known about the effects of gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) on lactation and milk components. Recent reports suggested that hyperglycemia during pregnancy was associated with altered breast milk immune factors. Human milk oligosaccharides (HMOs) and N-glycans ofmilk immune-modulatory proteins are implicated in modulation of infant immunity. The objective of the current study was to evaluate the effect of GDM on HMO and protein-conjugated glycan profiles in breast milk. Milk was collected at 2wk postpartumfromwomen diagnosed with (n=8) orwithout (n = 16)GDMatweek 24-28 in pregnancy. Milk was analyzed for HMO abundances, protein concentrations, and N-glycan abundances of lactoferrin and secretory immunoglobulin A (sIgA).HMOsand N-glycanswere analyzed bymass spectrometry andmilk lactoferrin and sIgA concentrations were analyzed by the Bradford assay. The data were analyzed using multivariate modeling confirmed with univariate statistics to determine differences between milk of women with compared with women without GDM. There were no differences in HMOs between milk from womenwith vs. without GDM. Milk from womenwith GDMcompared with thosewithout GDMwas 63.6% lower in sIgA protein (P < 0.05), 45% higher in lactoferrin total N-glycans (P < 0.0001), 36-72% higher in lactoferrin fucose and sialic acid N-glycans (P < 0.01), and 32-43% lower in sIgA total, mannose, fucose, and sialic acid N-glycans (P < 0.05). GDM did not alter breast milk free oligosaccharide abundances but decreased total protein and glycosylation of sIgA and increased glycosylation of lactoferrin in transitional milk. The results suggest that maternal glucose dysregulation during pregnancy has lasting consequences that may influence the innate immune protective functions of breastmilk.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1906-1912
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Nutrition
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Medicine(all)


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