Format

Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
PLoS One. 2011;6(6):e20812. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0020812. Epub 2011 Jun 30.

Interleukin 7 from maternal milk crosses the intestinal barrier and modulates T-cell development in offspring.

Author information

1
Department of Immunology, Imperial College London, London, United Kingdom. r.aspinall@cranfield.ac.uk

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Breastfeeding protects against illnesses and death in hazardous environments, an effect partly mediated by improved immune function. One hypothesis suggests that factors within milk supplement the inadequate immune response of the offspring, but this has not been able to account for a series of observations showing that factors within maternally derived milk may supplement the development of the immune system through a direct effect on the primary lymphoid organs. In a previous human study we reported evidence suggesting a link between IL-7 in breast milk and the thymic output of infants. Here we report evidence in mice of direct action of maternally-derived IL-7 on T cell development in the offspring.

METHODS AND FINDINGS:

We have used recombinant IL-7 labelled with a fluorescent dye to trace the movement in live mice of IL-7 from the stomach across the gut and into the lymphoid tissues. To validate the functional ability of maternally derived IL-7 we cross fostered IL-7 knock-out mice onto normal wild type mothers. Subsets of thymocytes and populations of peripheral T cells were significantly higher than those found in knock-out mice receiving milk from IL-7 knock-out mothers.

CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE:

Our study provides direct evidence that interleukin 7, a factor which is critical in the development of T lymphocytes, when maternally derived can transfer across the intestine of the offspring, increase T cell production in the thymus and support the survival of T cells in the peripheral secondary lymphoid tissue.

PMID:
21738587
PMCID:
PMC3127952
DOI:
10.1371/journal.pone.0020812
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

0 comments
How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for Public Library of Science Icon for PubMed Central
    Loading ...
    Support Center