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Open AccessArticle

Metabolomic and Metataxonomic Fingerprinting of Human Milk Suggests Compositional Stability over a Natural Term of Breastfeeding to 24 Months

1
Department of Surgery and Cancer, Imperial College London, London W12 0HS, UK
2
Department of Metabolism, Digestion and Reproduction, Imperial College London, London SW7 2AZ, UK
3
MRC Centre for Molecular Bacteriology and Infection, Imperial College London, London SW7 2AZ, UK
4
Institute for Global Food Security, School of Biological Sciences, Queen’s University Belfast, Belfast BT9 5DL, UK
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Nutrients 2020, 12(11), 3450; https://doi.org/10.3390/nu12113450
Received: 2 October 2020 / Revised: 3 November 2020 / Accepted: 9 November 2020 / Published: 11 November 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Breastfeeding and Human Milk Research)
Sparse data exist regarding the normal range of composition of maternal milk beyond the first postnatal weeks. This single timepoint, observational study in collaboration with the ‘Parenting Science Gang’ citizen science group evaluated the metabolite and bacterial composition of human milk from 62 participants (infants aged 3–48 months), nearly 3 years longer than previous studies. We utilised rapid evaporative ionisation mass spectrometry (REIMS) for metabolic fingerprinting and 16S rRNA gene metataxonomics for microbiome composition analysis. Milk expression volumes were significantly lower beyond 24 months of lactation, but there were no corresponding changes in bacterial load, composition, or whole-scale metabolomic fingerprint. Some individual metabolite features (~14%) showed altered abundances in nursling age groups above 24 months. Neither milk expression method nor nursling sex affected metabolite and metataxonomic fingerprints. Self-reported lifestyle factors, including diet and physical traits, had minimal impact on metabolite and metataxonomic fingerprints. Our findings suggest remarkable consistency in human milk composition over natural-term lactation. The results add to previous studies suggesting that milk donation can continue up to 24 months postnatally. Future longitudinal studies will confirm the inter-individual and temporal nature of compositional variations and the use of donor milk as a personalised therapeutic. View Full-Text
Keywords: human milk; metabolomic fingerprinting; metataxonomics human milk; metabolomic fingerprinting; metataxonomics
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MDPI and ACS Style

Shenker, N.S.; Perdones-Montero, A.; Burke, A.; Stickland, S.; McDonald, J.A.K.; Alexander-Hardiman, K.; Flanagan, J.; Takats, Z.; Cameron, S.J.S. Metabolomic and Metataxonomic Fingerprinting of Human Milk Suggests Compositional Stability over a Natural Term of Breastfeeding to 24 Months. Nutrients 2020, 12, 3450.

AMA Style

Shenker NS, Perdones-Montero A, Burke A, Stickland S, McDonald JAK, Alexander-Hardiman K, Flanagan J, Takats Z, Cameron SJS. Metabolomic and Metataxonomic Fingerprinting of Human Milk Suggests Compositional Stability over a Natural Term of Breastfeeding to 24 Months. Nutrients. 2020; 12(11):3450.

Chicago/Turabian Style

Shenker, Natalie S.; Perdones-Montero, Alvaro; Burke, Adam; Stickland, Sarah; McDonald, Julie A.K.; Alexander-Hardiman, Kate; Flanagan, James; Takats, Zoltan; Cameron, Simon J.S. 2020. "Metabolomic and Metataxonomic Fingerprinting of Human Milk Suggests Compositional Stability over a Natural Term of Breastfeeding to 24 Months" Nutrients 12, no. 11: 3450.

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