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Breastfeeding and the major fermentation metabolite lactate determine occurrence of Peptostreptococcaceae in infant feces

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  • Lucía Huertas-Díaz
  • Rikke Kyhnau
  • ,
  • Eugenio Ingribelli, Czech University of Life Sciences Prague
  • ,
  • Vera Neuzil-Bunesova, Czech University of Life Sciences Prague
  • ,
  • Qing Li
  • ,
  • Mari Sasaki, University of Zurich
  • ,
  • Roger P. Lauener, Christiane-Kühne Center for Allergy Research and Education (CK-Care), Children’s Hospital St. Gallen
  • ,
  • Caroline Roduit, University of Zurich, Christiane-Kühne Center for Allergy Research and Education (CK-Care), Children’s Hospital St. Gallen, University of Bern
  • ,
  • Remo Frei, Christiane-Kühne Center for Allergy Research and Education (CK-Care), University of Bern
  • ,
  • CK-CARE study group
  • ,
  • Ulrik Sundekilde
  • Clarissa Schwab

Previous studies indicated an intrinsic relationship between infant diet, intestinal microbiota composition and fermentation activity with a strong focus on the role of breastfeeding on microbiota composition. Yet, microbially formed short-chain fatty acids acetate, propionate and butyrate and other fermentation metabolites such as lactate not only act as substrate for bacterial cross-feeding and as mediators in microbe–host interactions but also confer antimicrobial activity, which has received considerably less attention in the past research. It was the aim of this study to investigate the nutritional–microbial interactions that contribute to the development of infant gut microbiota with a focus on human milk oligosaccharide (HMO) fermentation. Infant fecal microbiota composition, fermentation metabolites and milk composition were analyzed from 69 mother-infant pairs of the Swiss birth cohort Childhood AlleRgy nutrition and Environment (CARE) at three time points depending on breastfeeding status defined at the age of 4 months, using quantitative microbiota profiling, HPLC-RI and 1H-NMR. We conducted in vitro fermentations in the presence of HMO fermentation metabolites and determined the antimicrobial activity of lactate and acetate against major Clostridiaceae and Peptostreptococcaceae representatives. Our data show that fucosyllactose represented 90% of the HMOs present in breast milk at 1- and 3-months post-partum with fecal accumulation of fucose, 1,2-propanediol and lactate indicating fermentation of HMOs that is likely driven by Bifidobacterium. Concurrently, there was a significantly lower absolute abundance of Peptostreptococcaceae in feces of exclusively breastfed infants at 3 months. In vitro, lactate inhibited strains of Peptostreptococcaceae. Taken together, this study not only identified breastfeeding dependent fecal microbiota and metabolite profiles but suggests that HMO-derived fermentation metabolites might exert an inhibitory effect against selected gut microbes.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2241209
JournalGut Microbes
Number of pages21
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2023

    Research areas

  • Exclusively breastfeeding, gut microbiota, HMO fermentation metabolites, lactate, Peptostreptococcaceae

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