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J Appl Microbiol. 2003;95(1):44-53.

A two-stage continuous culture system to study the effect of supplemental alpha-lactalbumin and glycomacropeptide on mixed cultures of human gut bacteria challenged with enteropathogenic Escherichia coli and Salmonella serotype Typhimurium.

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Food Microbial Sciences Unit, School of Food Biosciences, The University of Reading, Reading, UK.



Certain milk factors may promote the growth of a gastrointestinal microflora predominated by bifidobacteria and may aid in overcoming enteric infections. This may explain why breast-fed infants experience fewer intestinal infections than their formula-fed counterparts. The effect of formula supplementation with two such factors was investigated in this study.


Infant faecal specimens were used to ferment formulae supplemented with glycomacropeptide (GMP) and alpha-lactalbumin (alpha-la) in a two-stage compound continuous culture model. At steady state, all fermenter vessels were inoculated with 5 ml of 0.1 m phosphate-buffered saline (pH 7.2) containing 108 CFU ml-1 of either enteropathogenic Escherichia coli 2348/69 (O127:H6) or Salmonella serotype Typhimurium (DSMZ 5569). Bacteriology was determined by independent fluorescence in situ hybridization. Vessels that contained breast milk (BM), as well as alpha-la and GMP supplemented formula had stable total counts of bifidobacteria while lactobacilli increased significantly only in vessels with breast milk. Bacteroides, clostridia and E. coli decreased significantly in all three groups prior to pathogen addition. Escherichia coli counts decreased in vessels containing BM and alpha-la while Salmonella decreased significantly in all vessels containing BM, alpha-la and GMP. Acetate was the predominant acid.


Supplementation of infant formulae with appropriate milk proteins may be useful in mimicking the beneficial bacteriological effects of breast milk.

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