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Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2016 Jan 15;469(3):626-32. doi: 10.1016/j.bbrc.2015.11.114. Epub 2015 Dec 2.

NMR-based metabolite profiling of human milk: A pilot study of methods for investigating compositional changes during lactation.

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Department of Chemistry, Umeå University, Sweden.
Department of Clinical Sciences, Pediatrics, Umeå University, Sweden.
Foods for Health Institute, University of California, Davis, CA, USA; Department of Nutrition, University of California, Davis, CA, USA.
Department of Medical Biochemistry and Biophysics, Unit of Research, Education and Development-Östersund, Umeå University, Sweden.
Department of Pharmacology and Clinical Neuroscience, Umeå University, Sweden. Electronic address:
Department of Chemistry, Umeå University, Sweden. Electronic address:


Low-molecular-weight metabolites in human milk are gaining increasing interest in studies of infant nutrition. In the present study, the milk metabolome from a single mother was explored at different stages of lactation. Metabolites were extracted from sample aliquots using either methanol/water (MeOH/H2O) extraction or ultrafiltration. Nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy was used for metabolite identification and quantification, and multi- and univariate statistical data analyses were used to detect changes over time of lactation. Compared to MeOH/H2O extraction, ultrafiltration more efficiently reduced the interference from lipid and protein resonances, thereby enabling the identification and quantification of 36 metabolites. The human milk metabolomes at the early (9-24 days after delivery) and late (31-87 days after delivery) stages of lactation were distinctly different according to multi- and univariate statistics. The late lactation stage was characterized by significantly elevated concentrations of lactose, choline, alanine, glutamate, and glutamine, as well as by reduced levels of citrate, phosphocholine, glycerophosphocholine, and N-acetylglucosamine. Our results indicate that there are significant compositional changes of the human milk metabolome also in different phases of the matured lactation stage. These findings complement temporal studies on the colostrum and transitional metabolome in providing a better understanding of the nutritional variations received by an infant.


Human milk; Lactation; Metabolomics; Metabonomics; NMR

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