New insights into the immune system improvement of breastfed infants

New insights into the immune system improvement of breastfed infants

Jun 17, 2021XieYifang

So far, little is known about the immune mechanisms that cause these effects

Research led by the University of Birmingham and the Birmingham Women and Children’s NHS Trust has revealed new insights into the biological mechanisms of breastfeeding’s long-term positive health effects on preventing immune system diseases in later life.
It is well known that breastfeeding is associated with better health outcomes during infancy and throughout adulthood. Previous studies have shown that breastfed infants suffer from asthma, obesity and autoimmunity in later life compared to infants fed pure formula milk. The possibility of sexual diseases is even smaller.

However, until now, the immune mechanisms that cause these effects are still poorly understood. In this new study, the researchers discovered for the first time that a specific type of immune cells-called regulatory T cells-expanded in the first three weeks after birth of breastfed human infants, almost as many as formula milk. Feed the baby twice. These cells also control the baby’s immune response to maternal cells transferred through breast milk and help reduce inflammation.

In addition, this research supported by the National Institutes of Health Surgical Reconstruction and Microbiology Research Center (NIHR SRMRC) shows that specific bacteria that support regulatory T cell function, called Veillonella and Gemella, are more abundant in the intestine. Breastfeeding baby.

The researchers said that the results of the study, published in the journal Allergy, emphasize the importance of breastfeeding.

Senior author, researcher at the University of Birmingham, and neonatal consultant consultant for the Birmingham Women and Children’s NHS Foundation, Gergely Toldi, said: “In the first few years, the impact of the type of milk received on the development of immune responses has not been studied.

Prior to our research, the prominent importance and early involvement of this specific cell type in breast-fed infants was unknown. We hope that this valuable new insight will lead to an increase in breastfeeding rates and enable more babies to benefit from the advantages of breastfeeding.

In addition, we hope that for those formula-fed infants, these results will help optimize the ingredients of formula to take advantage of these immune mechanisms. We are very grateful to the mothers and babies who contributed to this special project. "

The study is the culmination of a unique three-year research project that analyzed data from 38 healthy mothers and their healthy babies. A small amount of blood and stool samples were collected at Birmingham and Women's Hospital at birth, and then collected again at home visits when the baby was three weeks old. Sixteen of the 38 infants (42%) were exclusively breastfed during the study period, while 9 infants received mixed feeding and 13 infants received complete formula feeding.

Researchers now hope to further study this biological mechanism in diseased and premature newborns with inflammatory complications.

The research was carried out by a team from the Institute of Immunology and Immunotherapy at the University of Birmingham. Cancer and genomic research; microbiology and infection; and metabolism and systems research, as well as the neonatology department of the Birmingham Women and Children NHS Foundation Trust, and the NIHR SRMRC at Birmingham NHS University Hospital.

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