The benefits of human milk oligosaccharides in adult nutrition


  • Bettina Gutiérrez et al.


Human milk oligosaccharides Microbiota Pathogens Adherence Colon Allergy


Human milk oligosaccharides (HMOs) comprise a large family of extremely diverse oligosaccharides present in high concentrations and which generate a multitude of biological responses. They are generally considered to have a beneficial effect upon the establishment of the microbiota in infants, but they also exert this effect in adult humans. They can impede the attachment of pathogens and toxins such as Campylobacter jejuni, Escherichia coli, Vibrio cholerae, Salmonella fyris, Helicobacter pylori, bacterial toxins, Entamoeba histolytica and viruses, to the epithelial cells of the gastrointestinal tract. This in effect reduces their pathogenicity as binding to receptors on the epithelial cells is a prerequisite for infection by pathogens. If the pathogens or toxins bind to the HMOs they will be removed from the gastrointestinal tract and not cause disease. Therefore, HMOs are putative protective agents against enteric infections in adults as well as in infants. HMOs are also useful as therapeutic or preventive adjuncts in gut motility disorders and gut pain, and possibly also have beneficial effects in reducing food allergies. Hence, dietary manipulation by the use of HMOs represents a strategy to promote a beneficial gut microbiota and provide health benefits to human adults as well as to infants.