So far, little is known on the fate of oligosaccharides in the colon of breast- and formula-fed babies. Using capillary electrophoresis with laser induced fluorescence detector coupled to a mass spectrometer (CE–LIF–MSn), we studied the fecal oligosaccharide profiles of 27 two-month-old breast-, formula- and mixed-fed preterm babies. The interpretation of the complex oligosaccharide profiles was facilitated by beforehand clustering the CE–LIF data points by agglomerative hierarchical clustering (AHC). In the feces of breast-fed babies, characteristic human milk oligosaccharide (HMO) profiles, showing genetic fingerprints known for human milk of secretors and non-secretors, were recognized. Alternatively, advanced degradation and bioconversion of HMOs, resulting in an accumulation of acidic HMOs or HMO bioconversion products was observed. Independent of the prebiotic supplementation of the formula with galactooligosaccharides (GOS) at the level used, similar oligosaccharide profiles of low peak abundance were obtained for formula-fed babies. Feeding influences the presence of diet-related oligosaccharides in baby feces and gastrointestinal adaptation plays an important role herein. Four fecal oligosaccharides, characterized as HexNAc-Hex-Hex, Hex-[Fuc]-HexNAc-Hex, HexNAc-[Fuc]-Hex-Hex and HexNAc-[Fuc]-Hex-HexNAc-Hex-Hex, highlighted an active gastrointestinal metabolization of the feeding-related oligosaccharides. Their presence was linked to the gastrointestinal mucus layer and the blood-group determinant oligosaccharides therein, which are characteristic for the host’s genotype.
- induced fluorescence detection
- human-colon ecosystems
- blood-group antigens
- preterm infants