Human milk composition differs in healthy mothers and mothers with celiac disease

M. Olivares, S. Albrecht, G. de Palma, M. Desamparados Ferrer, G. Castillejo, H.A. Schols, Y. Sanz*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

93 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose To investigate whether breast-milk composition and microbiota differ in healthy mothers and mothers with celiac disease (CD) to ultimately contribute to identify additional factors determining CD risk. Methods Breast-milk samples from healthy mothers (n = 12) and mothers with CD (n = 12) were collected. Cytokines and secretory immunoglobulin A (sIgA) were analyzed by bead-arrays and flow cytometry and human milk oligosaccharides (HMOs) were assessed by capillary electrophoresis with laser-induced fluorescence (CE-LIF) detection. Breast-milk microbiota composition was analyzed by conventional and quantitative real-time PCR. Result Breast milk from CD mothers showed significantly lower levels of interleukin (IL) 12p70 (P\0.042), transforming growth factor (TGF)-b1 (P\0.018) and sIgA (P\0.003) and almost significantly lower levels of interferon (IFN)-c (P\0.058). Six mothers in each group belonged to the secretor Le(a-b?) type, one to the secretor Le(a-b-) type and five to the non-secretor Le(a?b-) type. CD mothers of non-secretor Le(a?b-) type showed increased Lacto-N-tetraose content (P\0.042) compared with healthy mothers. CD mothers’ milk showed reduced gene copy numbers of Bifidobacterium spp. (P\0.026) and B. fragilis group (P\0.044). Conclusion CD mothers’ breast milk is characterized by a reduced abundance of immunoprotective compounds (TGF-b1 and sIgA) and bifidobacteria. The reduction in these components could theoretically diminish the protective effects of breast-feeding on the child’s future risk of developing CD.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)119-128
JournalEuropean Journal of Nutrition
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • breast-milk
  • cytokine production
  • allergic disease
  • ce-lif
  • childhood
  • risk
  • oligosaccharides
  • infant
  • metaanalysis
  • bacteria


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