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Julie Astono

PhD Student

Julie Astono



Title: Mechanistic effects of human milk components on infant metabolism and gut microbiota

University: Aarhus University

Department: Department of Food Science, Differentiated and Biofunctional Foods

Main supervisor: Jette F. Young, Lector, Aarhus University

Co-supervisors: Ulrik K. Sundekilde, Assistant professor, Aarhus University and Søren Drud-Heydary Nielsen, Assistant professor, Aarhus University

Project term: 1/8-2021 to 31/7-2024

Master: MSc in Molecular Biology, Aarhus University   


Human milk is considered a superior source of energy for infants the first months after birth. However, little is known of how human milk components, such as metabolites, proteins and human milk oligosaccharides vary due to maternal factors such as pre-pregnancy BMI or of the biological mechanisms behind the beneficial actions of many human milk nutrients. The human milk comprises a distinctive microbiota. The relation between the above-mentioned factors and the infant’s gut colonization and the metabolic consequences thereof remains to be established.

Aim of the project

  • Establish a metabolic profile of the infant urine during the first three months of life
  • Comprehensive analysis of the composition of human milk focusing on the metabolome, proteome and human milk oligosaccharides
  • Elucidate the infant metabolism’s respond on human milk

Research outline

The MainHealth cohort are continuously growing and aims to include 200 mother-infant dyads during the first year of life across three groups of pregestational maternal BMI: 1) BMI 18.5-24.99 kg/m2, 2) BMI 25-29.99 kg/m2, 3) BMI >30 kg/m2. The participants are then followed from the birth of the infant to the infant is 1 year old. Throughout the period, a series of samples are collected including, but not limited to, milk samples, infant urine and faeces. Milk samples are collected at four time points during lactation: after three days, one, two and three months. Urine and faeces samples are collected at three time points: one, two and three months. NMR analyses will be applied to establish a metabolic profile of the infant urine during the first three months of life. Mass spectrometry is used for the comprehensive analysis of human milk.

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