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Biol Chem. 2009 Jan;390(1):31-40. doi: 10.1515/BC.2009.003.

Glycosphingolipids from bovine milk and milk fat globule membranes: a comparative study. Adhesion to enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli strains.

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  • 1Departamento de Bioquímica y Biología Molecular, Facultad de Biología, Universidad de Salamanca, E-37007 Salamanca, Spain.


Several components of milk fat globule membranes (MFGMs) have been reported to display beneficial health properties and some of them have been implicated in the defense of newborns against pathogens. These observations prompted us to determine the glycosphingolipid content of MFGMs and their interaction with pathogens. A comparative study with whole milk components was also carried out. Milk fat globules and MFGMs were isolated from milk. Gangliosides and neutral glycosphingolipids were obtained from MFGMs and whole milk and their fatty acid contents were determined by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS). MFGMs and whole milk showed similar ganglioside and neutral glycosphingolipid contents, with whole milk having more GM3 and glucosylceramide and less GD3, O-acetyl GD3, O-acetyl GT3, and lactosylceramide. The fatty acid content of gangliosides from both sources showed a similar composition. However, the neutral glycosphingolipid fatty acid content seemed to be quite different. Whole milk had fewer very-long-chain fatty acids (18.1% vs. 46.4% in MFGMs) and more medium-chain and unsaturated C18:1 and C18:2 fatty acids. Milk fat globules, MFGMs, lactosylceramide, and gangliosides GM3 and GD3 were observed to bind enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli strains. Furthermore, bacterial hemagglutination was inhibited by MFGMs and glycosphingolipids.

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