Building resilient guts with human milk sugars

  • News
  • 15 Jan. 2024
2022 University California San Diego FLRF

Researchers at the University of California San Diego have just discovered how a powerfully beneficial strain of bacteria is established in the infant mouse gut, thanks to a bacterial enzyme that helps metabolize human milk oligosaccharides (HMOs).

Known as Bacteroides fragilis, the bacteria is responsible for keeping the gut healthy. It helps digest food and prevent inflammation. And the researchers have now learned that HMOs encourage these bacteria to colonize, and it also help the gut recover from exposure to antibiotics.

“Our findings suggest that the mammalian host curates its indigenous microbiota by providing specific substrates, such as HMOs, within a developmental window to ensure stable colonization of beneficial microbes,” writes principal investigator Dr. Hiutung Chu.

Their full findings have been published in the Cell Press journal Cell Host & Microbe. Read them here (‘A bacterial sialidase mediates early life colonization by a pioneering gut commensal’).

FLRF is proud to have helped support this work with a 2021 MOMI Seeds Pilot Grant to Dr. Chu, through the Larsson-Rosenquist Foundation Mother-Milk-Infant Center of Research Excellence (LRF MOMI CORE) at UC San Diego.

Interested in a MOMI Seeds Pilot Grant? Discover more about the annual grant program here.