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BMB Rep. 2012 Aug;45(8):433-41. doi: 10.5483/BMBRep.2012.45.8.168.

Human milk oligosaccharides: the novel modulator of intestinal microbiota.

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Department of Food Nutrition, Chungnam National University Daejeon, Korea.


Human milk, which nourishes the early infants, is a source of bioactive components for the infant growth, development and commensal formulation as well. Human milk oligosaccharide is a group of complex and diverse glycans that is apparently not absorbed in human gastrointestinal tract. Although most mammalian milk contains oligosaccharides, oligosaccharides in human milk exhibit unique features in terms of their types, amounts, sizes, and functionalities. In addition to the prevention of infectious bacteria and the development of early immune system, human milk oligosaccharides are able to facilitate the healthy intestinal microbiota. Bifidobacterial intestinal microbiota appears to be established by the unilateral interaction between milk oligosaccharides, human intestinal activity and commensals. Digestibility, membrane transportation and catabolic activity by bacteria and intestinal epithelial cells, all of which are linked to the structural of human milk oligosaccharides, are crucial in determining intestinal microbiota.

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