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Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2014;54(11):1427-57. doi: 10.1080/10408398.2011.640757.

Specificity of infant digestive conditions: some clues for developing relevant in vitro models.

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a INRA, UMR 1253, Science & Technology of Milk and Egg , 35000 , Rennes , France.


Digestion of nutrients is an essential function of the newborn infant gut to allow growth and development and understanding infant digestive function is essential to optimize nutrition and oral drug delivery. Ethical considerations prohibit invasive in vivo trials and as a consequence in vitro assays are often conducted. However, the choice of in vitro model parameters are not supported by an exhaustive analysis of the literature and do not mimic precisely the digestive conditions of the infant. This review contains a compilation of the studies which characterized the gastroduodenal conditions in full-term or preterm infants of variable postnatal age from birth up to six months. Important data about healthy full-term infants are reported. The enzymatic (type of enzymes and level of activity) and nonenzymatic (milk-based diet, frequency of feeding, bile salt concentrations) conditions of digestion in infants are shown to differ significantly from those in adults. In addition, the interindividual and developmental variability of the digestive conditions in infants is also highlighted.

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