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J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 2014 Feb;58(2):165-8. doi: 10.1097/MPG.0000000000000172.

Human milk oligosaccharides protect against enteropathogenic Escherichia coli attachment in vitro and EPEC colonization in suckling mice.

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*Department of Medicine †Department of Pediatrics, Division of Neonatology and Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, CA.


Breast-feeding reduces the risk of enteric bacterial infections in newborns in part because of human milk oligosaccharides (HMOs), complex glycans that are present in human milk, but not in infant formula. Enteropathogenic Escherichia coli (EPEC) are attaching/effacing pathogens that cause serious diarrheal illness with potentially high mortality in infants. We isolated HMOs from pooled human milk and found that they significantly reduce EPEC attachment to cultured epithelial cells. In suckling mice, administration of HMOs significantly reduced colonization with EPEC compared with untreated controls. These data suggest an essential role for HMOs in the prevention of EPEC infections in human infants.

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