Persistent effects of early infant diet and associated microbiota on the juvenile immune system

Nicole R. Narayan, Gema Méndez-Lagares, Amir Ardeshir, Ding Lu, Koen K A van Rompay, Dennis Hartigan-O'Connor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Early infant diet has significant impacts on the gut microbiota and developing immune system. We previously showed that breast-fed and formula-fed rhesus macaques develop significantly different gut microbial communities, which in turn are associated with different immune systems in infancy. Breast-fed animals manifested greater T cell activation and proliferation and harbored robust pools of T helper 17 (TH17) cells. These differences were sustained throughout the first year of life. Here we examine groups of juvenile macaques (approximately 3 to 5 y old), which were breast-fed or formula-fed in infancy. We demonstrate that juveniles breast-fed in infancy maintain immunologic differences into the fifth year of life, principally in CD8+ memory T cell activation. Additionally, long-term correlation networks show that breast-fed animals maintain persistent relationships between immune subsets that are not seen in formula-fed animals. These findings demonstrate that infant feeding practices have continued influence on immunity for up to 3 to 5 y after birth and also reveal mechanisms for microbial modulation of the immune system.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)284-289
Number of pages6
JournalGut Microbes
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015


  • Breast-milk
  • Gut microbiota
  • Rhesus macaque
  • T cell activation
  • T17 cells

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gastroenterology
  • Infectious Diseases
  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Microbiology


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