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Nutrients. 2014 Apr 24;6(4):1711-24. doi: 10.3390/nu6041711.

Epigenetic effects of human breast milk.

Author information

1
Department of Pediatrics, San Paolo Hospital, University of Milan, Via A Di Rudinì 8, I-20142 Milan, Italy. elvira.verduci@unimi.it.
2
Department of Pediatrics, San Paolo Hospital, University of Milan, Via A Di Rudinì 8, I-20142 Milan, Italy. giuseppe.banderali@unimi.it.
3
Department of Pediatrics, San Paolo Hospital, University of Milan, Via A Di Rudinì 8, I-20142 Milan, Italy. salvatorebarberi@hotmail.com.
4
Department of Pediatrics, San Paolo Hospital, University of Milan, Via A Di Rudinì 8, I-20142 Milan, Italy. giovanni.radaelli@unimi.it.
5
Department of Pediatrics, San Paolo Hospital, University of Milan, Via A Di Rudinì 8, I-20142 Milan, Italy. alessandra_lops@hotmail.it.
6
Department of Pediatrics, San Paolo Hospital, University of Milan, Via A Di Rudinì 8, I-20142 Milan, Italy. fedi.betti@hotmail.it.
7
Department of Pediatrics, San Paolo Hospital, University of Milan, Via A Di Rudinì 8, I-20142 Milan, Italy. enrica.riva@unimi.it.
8
Department of Pediatrics, San Paolo Hospital, University of Milan, Via A Di Rudinì 8, I-20142 Milan, Italy. marcello.giovannini@unimi.it.

Abstract

A current aim of nutrigenetics is to personalize nutritional practices according to genetic variations that influence the way of digestion and metabolism of nutrients introduced with the diet. Nutritional epigenetics concerns knowledge about the effects of nutrients on gene expression. Nutrition in early life or in critical periods of development, may have a role in modulating gene expression, and, therefore, have later effects on health. Human breast milk is well-known for its ability in preventing several acute and chronic diseases. Indeed, breastfed children may have lower risk of neonatal necrotizing enterocolitis, infectious diseases, and also of non-communicable diseases, such as obesity and related-disorders. Beneficial effects of human breast milk on health may be associated in part with its peculiar components, possible also via epigenetic processes. This paper discusses about presumed epigenetic effects of human breast milk and components. While evidence suggests that a direct relationship may exist of some components of human breast milk with epigenetic changes, the mechanisms involved are still unclear. Studies have to be conducted to clarify the actual role of human breast milk on genetic expression, in particular when linked to the risk of non-communicable diseases, to potentially benefit the infant's health and his later life.

PMID:
24763114
PMCID:
PMC4011062
DOI:
10.3390/nu6041711
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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