In addition to being a source of nutrients for the developing newborn, human milk contains thousands of bioactive compounds, which influence infant health in the short-term as exemplified by its major benefits on infectious disease prevention.
Many of the human milk compounds also have the required characteristics to instruct immune development and guide long-term health. Prebiotics, probiotics, and varied antimicrobial molecules all have the potential to shape the composition and function of the establishing gut microbiota, which is known to be a major determinant of immune function.
Another and less explored way human milk can instruct long-term immunity is through antigen shedding. Her research reviewed the evidence that antigens from maternal environment and more specifically from allergen sources are found in human milk.
Data from rodent models and birth cohorts show that allergen shedding in breast milk may influence long-term allergy risk. The research aims to uncover the variables that may underlie heterogeneity in oral tolerance induction and allergy prevention in children breast-fed by allergen-exposed mothers.
They focus on the parameters that control antigen transfer to breast milk, on the unique biological characteristics of allergens in breast milk, and on the milk bioactive compounds that were found to influence immune response in offspring.
This understanding is likely fundamental to guide maternal interventions leading to lifelong allergen tolerance.
Key take aways:
Breastmilk is a source of infant exposure to HDM allergen
Der p 1 in breastmilk can act as an adjuvant and increase the risk for food and respiratory allergy
The levels of Der p 1 in mattress dust do not condition its presence in breastmilk