Mmm Mom, Give Me Some More of that Ganglioside and Lactoferrin: Breastmilk Does a Body Good

Breast is Best!  It is the common theme of the breastfeeding advocacy.  But why is Breast Best?  Besides the bonding experience and the benefits to the infant from head to toe , breastmilk is nature’s miracle liquid providing important protection to an infant with an immature ability to fight off illness on their own.

I feel like sometimes breastfeeding as seen as a rite of passage or a badge of uber-motherness.  A litmus of how much of a crunchy, hippie mama you are.  We pay just lip service to “breast is best” because it is the more “natural” choice and because of the attachment benefits to the infant (physical closeness, feed on demand, etc.).  Although these are important, it might be missing the biggest point about breastfeeding – that breastmilk is biologically designed to optimize the health of human babies.

LaTrobe University Department of Microbiology has studied Human Milk to find out exactly what goodies lurk inside that liquid gold (I highlighted some I found interesting).

Antiviral components of Human Milk and the viruses they work against

Factor Shown in vitro to be active against
Secretory IgA Polio types, 1,2,3. Coxsackie types A9, B3, B5, echo types 6,9, Semliki Forest virus, Ross River virus, rotavirus, cytomegalovirus, reovirus type 3, rubella varicella-zoster virus, rhinovirus, herpes simplex virus, mumps virus, influenza, respiratory syncytial virus, human immunodeficiency virus, hepatitis C virus, hepatitis B virus, hepatitis E, measles, sin nombre hantavirus, SARS virus, Norwark and noroviruses.
IgE Parvovirus B19
IgG Rubella, cytomegalovirus, respiratory syncytial virus. rotavirus, human immunodeficiency virus, Epstein-Barr virus, sin nombre hantavirus, West Nile virus.
IgM Rubella, cytomegalovirus, respiratory syncytial virus, human immunodeficiency virus, sin nombre hantavirus, West Nile virus.
Bifidobacterium bifidum Rotavirus (by increasing mucin)
Chondroitin sulphate (-like) Human immunodeficiency virus
α defensins (1-3) Herpes simplex virus, vesticular stomatitis virus, cytomegalovirus, influenza, human immunodefiency virus
ß-defensin 1 or
Haemagglutinin inhibitors Influenza, mumps.
Lactadherin (mucin-associated glycoprotein) Rotavirus
Histo-blood group carbohydrates Norwalk virus
Lactoferrin Cytomegalovirus, human immunodeficiency virus and reverse transcriptase, respiratory syncytial virus, herpes simplex virus type 1, herpes simplex virus type 2, hepatitis C, hepatitis B, poliovirus type 1, adenovirus 2 and Friend retrovirus. Also binds to the virus receptors, low density lipoprotein receptor, and heparin sulphate proteoglycans. Hepatitis G, rotavirus and Seoul hantavirus
Lipid (unsaturated fatty acids and monoglycerides) Herpes simplex virus, Semliki Forest virus, influenza, dengue, Ross River virus, Japanese B encephalitis virus, sindbis, West Nile, Sendai, Newcastle disease virus, human immunodeficiency virus, respiratory syncytial virus, Junin virus, vesticular stomatitis virus, cytomegalovirus, mumps, measles, rubella, parainfluenza viruses 1-4, coronavirus, bovine enterovirus (C12), poliovirus (C18), African swine fever virus.
Lysozyme Human immunodeficiency virus, ectromelia
alpha2-macroglobulin (like) Influenza haemagglutinin, parainfluenza haemagglutinin.
Milk cells Induced gamma-interferon: virus, PHA, or PMA and ionomycin
Induced cytokine: herpes simplex virus, respiratory syncytial virus.
Lymphocyte stimulation: rubella, cytomegalovirus, herpes, measles, mumps, respiratory syncytial virus, human immunodeficiency virus.
Mucin (muc-1; milk fat globulin membrane) Human immunodeficiency virus, pox virus
Non-immunoglobulin macromolecules Herpes simplex virus, vesicular stomatitis virus, Coxsackie B4, Semliki Forest virus, reovirus 3, poliotype 2, cytomegalovirus, respiratory syncytial virus, rotavirus.
Neutrophil-derived α-defensin-1 (HNP-1) Herpes simplex virus 1
Ribonuclease Murine leukaemia, human immunodeficiency virus
Secretory leukocyte protease inhibitor Human immunodeficiency virus, sendai, influenza
Sialic acid-glycoproteins Adenovirus 37
slgA + trypsin inhibitor Rotavirus
Soluble intracellular adhesion molecule 1 (ICAM-1) Rhinoviruses (major-group) 3, 14, 54; Coxsackie A13
Soluble vascular cell adhesion molecule 1 (VCAM-1) Encephalomyocarditis virus
Sulphatide (sulphogalactosylceramide) Human immunodeficiency virus
Vitamin A Herpes simplex virus 2, simian virus 40, cytomegalovirus
Factors found at very low levels in human milk Shown in vitro to be active against
Prostaglandins E2, F2 alpha Parainfluenza 3, measles
Prostaglandins E1 Poliovirus, encephalomyocarditis virus, measles
Gangliosides GM1-3 Rotavirus, respiratory syncytial virus, adenovirus 37
Gangliosides GD1a, GT1b, GQ1b Sendai virus
Glycolipid Gb4 Human B19 parvovirus
Heparin Cytomegalovirus, respiratory syncytial virus, dengue, adenovirus 2 and 5, human herpesvirus 7 and 8, adeno-associated virus 2, hepatitis C

Antibacterial components of Human Milk and the bacterium they fight against

Factor Shown in vitro to be active against
Secretory IgA E. coli (also pili, capsular antigens, CFA1) including enteropathogenic strains, C. tetani, C. diphtheriae, K. pneumoniae, S. pyogenes, S. mutans, S. sanguins, S. mitis, S. agalactiae(group B streptococci), S. salvarius, S. pneumoniae (also capsular polysaccharides), C. burnetti, H. influenzae. H. pylori, S. flexneri, S. boydii, S. sonnei, C. jejuni, N. meningitidis, B. pertussis, S. dysenteriae, C. trachomatis, Salmonella (6 groups), S. minnesota, P. aeruginosa, L. innocua, Campylobacter flagelin, Y. enterocolitica, S. flexneri virulence plasmid antigen, C. diphtheriae toxin,E. coli enterotoxin, V. choleraeenterotoxin, C. difficile toxins, H. influenzae capsule, S. aureusenterotoxin F, Candida albicans*,Mycoplasma pneumoniae
IgG E. coli, B. pertussis, H. influenzae type bS. pneumoniae, S. agalactiae, N. meningitidis, 14 pneumoccoccal capsular polysaccharides, V. choleraelipopolysaccharide, S. flexneri invasion plasmid-coded antigens, major opsonin for S. aureus
IgM V. cholerae lipopolysaccharide, E. coliS. flexneri
IgD E. coli
Analogues of epithelial cell
receptors (oligosaccharides and sialylated oligosaccharides)
S. pneumoniae, H. influenzae
Bifidobacterium bifidum
growth factors (oligosaccharides,
Other Bifidobacteria growth
factors (alpha-lactoglobulin, lactoferrin, sialyllactose)
Enteric bacteria. Two infantBifidobacteria species provide a lipophilic molecule which killsS. typhimuriumB. bifidum produces Bifidocin B which kills Listeria.B. longum produces protein BIF, which stops E. coli.
Carbohydrate E. coli enterotoxin, E. coliC. difficiletoxin A
Cathelicidin (LL-37 peptide) S. aureus, group A streptococcus, E. coli
Casein H. influenzae
kappa-Casein H. pyloriS. pneumoniaeH. influenzae
Complement C1-C9
(mainly C3 and C4)
Killing of S. aureus in macrophages,E. coli (serum-sensitive)
�-defensin-1 or -2 or
or α-defensin-5 or -6
E. coli, P. aeruginosa, (some Candida albicans )
Factor binding proteins (zinc,
vitamin B12, folate)
Dependent E. coli
Free secretory component E. coli colonization factor antigen 1 (CFA I) and CFA II, C. difficile toxin A, H. pylori, E. coli
Fucosylated oligosaccharides E. coli heat stable enterotoxin,C. jejuniE. coli
Ganglioside GM1 E. coli enterotoxin, V. cholerae toxin,C. jejuni enterotoxin, E. coli
Ganglioside GM3 E. coli
Glycolipid Gb3 S. dysenterae toxin, shigatoxin of shigella and E. coli
Glycoproteins (mannosylated) E. coli, E. coli CFA11, fimbrae
Glycoproteins (receptor-
like)+ oligosaccharides
V. cholerae
Glycoproteins (sialic acid
-containing or terminal galactose)
E. coli (S-fimbrinated)
alpha-Lactalbumin (variant) S. pneumoniae
Lactoferrin E. coli, E. coli/CFA1 or S-fimbriae,Candida albicans , Candida krusei,Rhodotorula rubraH. influenzae, S. flexneri, Actinobacillus actinomycetemcomitans
Lactoperoxidase Streptococcus, Pseudomonas, E. coli, S. typhimurium
Lewis antigens S. aureus, C. perfringens
Lipids S. aureus, E. coli, S. epidermis, H. influenzae, S. agalactiae, L. monocytogenes, N. gonorrhoeae, C. trachomatis, B. parapertusis heat-labile toxin, binds Shigella-like toxin-1
Lysozyme E. coli, Salmonella, M. lysodeikticus, S. aureus, P. fragi, growing Candida albicans and Aspergillus fumigatus
Milk cells (80% macrophages,
15% neutrophils,
0.3% B and 4% T lymphocytes)
By phagocytosis and killing: E. coli, S. aureus, S. enteritidis
By sensitised lymphocytes: E. coli
By phagocytosis: Candida albicans,E. coli
Lymphocyte stimulation: E. coli K antigen, tuberculin
Spontaneous monokines: simulated by lipopolysaccaride
Induced cytokines: PHA, PMA + ionomycin
Fibronectin helps in uptake by phagocytic cells.
Mucin (muc-1; milk fat
globulin membrane)
E. coli (S-fimbrinated)
(milk fat, proteins)
C. trachomatis, Y. enterocolitica
Phosphatidylethanolamine H. pylori
(Tri to penta) phosphorylated beta-casein H. influenzae
Sialyllactose V. cholerae toxin, H. pylori
on sIgA(Fc)
E. coli (S-fimbrinated) adhesion
Soluble bacterial pattern recognition receptor CD14 Bacteria (or LPS) activate this to induce immune response molecules from intestinal cells
Sulphatide (sulphogalactosylceramide) S. typhimurium
Unidentified factors S. aureus, B. pertussis, C. jejuni, E. coli, S. typhimurium, S. flexneri, S. sonnei, V. cholerae, L. pomona, L. hyos, L. icterohaemorrhagiae, C. difficile toxin B, H. pylori, C. trachomatis
Xanthine oxidase
(with added hypoxanthine)
E. coli, S. enteritidis
Factors found at low level in human milk Shown in vitro to be active against
CCL28 (CC-chemokine) Candida albicans, P. aeruginosa, S. mutans, S. pyogenes, S. aureus, K. pneumonidae
Heparin Chlamydia pneumoniae
RANTES (CC-chemokine) E. coli, S. aureus, Candida albicans, Cryptococcus neoformans
Secretory leukocyte protease inhibitor (antileukocyte protease; SLPI) E. coli, S. aureus, growing C. albicans and A. fumigatus

Antiparasitic components of Human Milk and the parasites they protect against

Shown in vitro to
be active against
Secretory IgA
Giardia lamblia (protozoa)

Entamoeba histolytica (protozoa)

Schistosoma mansoni (blood fluke)

Cryptosporidium (protozoa)

Strongyloides stercoralis (threadworm)

Toxoplasma gondii
Plasmodium falciparum (malaria)

Plasmodium falciparum

Strongyloides stercoralis (threadworm)

Gangliosides Giardia lamblia, Giardia muris
Lipid (free fatty acids
and monoglycerides)
Giardia lamblia

Entamoeba histolytica
Trichomonas vaginalis (protozoa)

Eimeria tenella (animal coccidiosis)

Lactoferrin (or pepsin-generated lactoferricin) Giardia lamblia, Plasmodium falciparum
Unidentified Trypanosoma brucei rhodesiense
Macrophages Entamoeba histolytica

So bring on those macrophages and Xanthine Oxidase Mom!


5 thoughts on “Mmm Mom, Give Me Some More of that Ganglioside and Lactoferrin: Breastmilk Does a Body Good

  1. Great information. I breastfed for 3 years and loved every day. My daughter surely reaped benefits that I see in her health every single day.

    I love that you are promoting breastfeeding.


  2. Great information. I breastfed for 3 years and loved every day. My daughter surely reaped benefits that I see in her health every single day. I love that you are promoting breastfeeding.


  3. Pingback: Breastfeeding vs. Smoking: Effect on Bystanders » The Road Less Traveled To Parenthood » Baby Dust Diaries

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