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Pediatr Res. 1999 Aug;46(2):200-7.

Human milk effects on neutrophil calcium metabolism: blockade of calcium influx after agonist stimulation.

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  • 1Center for Pediatric Research, Children's Hospital of The King's Daughters, Eastern Virginia Medical School, Norfolk, 23510-1001, USA.


Neutrophils are the predominant cellular mediators of acute inflammation, and human milk suppresses multiple neutrophil functions. We sought to determine whether these effects were mediated through disruption of normal intracellular Ca2+ homeostasis. Exposure of human neutrophils to human milk, followed by washing, resulted in altered Ca2+ transient responses to formyl-peptide stimulation in which the peak cytosolic free Ca2+ concentration ([free Ca]) was the same as in unexposed cells, but the postpeak decline in [free Ca] was more rapid. This effect was observed after human milk exposures as brief as 10 s, persisted for up to 4 h after human milk removal, and was concentration dependent. On the basis of experiments examining Ca2+-free conditions followed by Ca2+ supplementation, and experiments examining spontaneous and stimulated manganese and barium influx into neutrophils, the human milk effect was due to blockade of Ca2+ influx. Decreased Ca2+ transient responses to other physiologic stimuli (IL-8, opsonized Staphylococcus aureus, and immune complexes) were observed after human milk exposures. Rat intestinal epithelial cells and HL-60 cells failed to show these effects, suggesting a selective effect on mature inflammatory cells. Characterization of the Ca2+-blocking activity showed it was heat and acid stable in human milk with a molecular mass between 30-100 kD. Commercial human milk lactoferrin exhibited Ca2+ influx blockade activity, but recombinant human lactoferrin showed none. Separation of the activity by heparin affinity chromatography showed that it was distinct from lactoferrin. Human milk-induced blockade of Ca2+ influx provides a potential mechanism for broad suppression of neutrophil functions that may contribute to the antiinflammatory properties of human milk.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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