Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 2002 Aug;35(2):192-8.

Mechanisms of vitamin B(12) absorption in breast-fed infants.

Author information

  • 1Department of Nutrition university of California, Davis, California 95616, USA.



The mechanisms of vitamin B(12) absorption in infants are unknown. We investigated whether haptocorrin (HC), a vitamin B(12) -binding protein in human milk, facilitates vitamin B(12) absorption during the neonatal period or if it occurs by a process similar to that in adults involving another vitamin B(12) -binding protein, intrinsic factor (IF).


To determine whether HC or IF can deliver vitamin B(12) to the enterocyte, binding studies using Caco-2 intestinal cells in culture and purified human milk HC-[ (57)Co]vitamin B(12) or [(125)I]IF-vitamin B(12) were performed. Determination of IF secretion by infant stomach was investigated by a competitive ELISA on fecal extracts from breast-fed infants. Determination of receptors specific for IF-vitamin B(12) or HC-vitamin B(12) in infant intestine was achieved by ligand blot analysis using isolated brush border membrane vesicles (BBMV) from fetal and adult intestine and Caco-2 cells. PCR was performed to identify the IF receptor gene transcript in Caco-2 cells and fetal intestine.


Limited binding of both HC and IF to Caco-2 cells was observed; however, HC displayed affinity to low molecular weight proteins in BBMV from fetal intestine and Caco-2 cells while IF showed affinity for a 240 kDa protein in BBMV from fetal intestine and Caco-2 cells. IF receptor gene transcript was identified in fetal intestine and Caco-2 cells. An increase in IF excretion from breast-fed infants throughout early life was observed.


An IF-dependent vitamin B(12) absorption mechanism appears to be in place in breast-fed infants. However, IF levels may be too low in early life to participate in vitamin B(12) absorption; therefore, haptocorrin may mediate vitamin B(12) absorption until the absorption function can be taken over by a more mature IF system.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for Lippincott Williams & Wilkins
    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk