Background/Aims: Complex milk lipids include phospholipids, and gangliosides which are found as part of the human milk fat globule membrane. Reported levels of these bioactive components in human milk and human milk substitutes are variable.
Methods: Chinese and Malaysian human milk lactational changes in ganglioside and phospholipid concentrations were analysed using HPLC-MS over 12 months.
Results: The highest total ganglioside and phospholipid concentration in Malaysian and Chinese mother’s milk was at 6 and 12 months lactation respectively. GM3 was the most dominant ganglioside class observed in mature milk, while phosphatidyl ethanolamine and sphingomyelin were the two most dominant phospholipid classes observed.
Numerous molecular species were also observed within each ganglioside and phospholipid class as a result of the variety of fatty acids attached to them.
Conclusions: Using modern analytical HPLC-MS techniques, we were able to measure and characterise the human milk ganglioside and phospholipid concentrations. As human breast milk is the gold standard to which infant formulas are formulated, there is awareness that numerous bioactive lipid components are present in breast milk at significant levels, but are at lower concentrations in infant formula. There may be a need to provide these as appropriate building blocks for infant formula to support normal growth and development of the immune system, as well as visual and cognitive performance. Whether this is the case needs to be determined by further research.
Funding source(s): Universiti Sains Malaysia Research Grant Scheme (1001/PPSK/811087) and the New Zealand Primary Growth Partnership post-farm gate dairy programme.