Human milk fat globule membrane (MFGM) is a trilayer membrane enveloping milk fat secreted as lipid droplets in milk. Milk fat is secreted as lipid droplets, of sizes ranging from 0.1 to 10 μm in humans, enabling fat to be conveyed in an aqueous environment,.
Protein components of MFGM, such as mucin, support gut health and development by inhibiting pathogenic viruses and bacteria.
MFGM mainly consists of polar lipids (0.2-1% of milk lipids), cholesterol (0.46% of milk lipids) and proteins (1-2% of the total protein fraction in milk),. Polar lipids are rich in phospholipids including glycerophospholipids and sphingomyelin, and glycosphingolipids,. Glycosphingolipids are quantitatively minor constituents of the MFGM, and are comprised of cerebrosides and gangliosides.
Aspects of MFGM related to brain
Key components of dietary MFGM, sphingomyelin and gangliosides, are absorbable and utilizable as measured in infants by blood levels,, by their cognitive effects,, and by the fact that higher protein- and ganglioside-bound sialic acid levels are found in brains from infants that were breastfed than formula fed. Animal data also show that dietary sphingomyelin and gangliosides are absorbable, and can increase sphingomyelin and ganglioside levels in the brain,.
Sphingomyelin and gangliosides are enriched in the brain, and are important for myelination of axons,,. The myelin insulates the neuronal axons for faster signaling along the axon compared to unmyelinated axons.
Gangliosides have been reported to play roles in synaptic transmission and long-term potentiation,,,,. Long term potentiation increases the synapse strength, and is believed to be a cellular process underlying learning and memory.
A clinical study in infants in Sweden showed that infants fed an experimental infant formula supplemented with a bovine MFGM source (Lacprodan® MFGM-10) at 6 g/L for the first 6 months of life had significantly higher cognitive scores in the Bayley Scales of Infant and Toddler Development (BSID-III) at 12 months of age compared to infants fed a standard infant formula without MFGM-10, but not different than the breastfed reference group.
A clinical study in young children and children showed that young children and children given chocolate milk formula with MFGM, derived from bovine buttermilk, providing 500 mg/day of dairy-derived phospholipids had improved internal, external, and total behavioral problem scores as rated by parents compared to those fed a standard chocolate milk formula without supplemental MFGM.
Aspects of MFGM related to gastrointestinal health & immunity
MFGM and MFGM components have also been shown to play a role in the maintenance of gut health, mainly through their anti-pathogenic activities, and to support immunity.
A clinical study in infants in Sweden showed that infants fed an experimental infant formula supplemented with a bovine MFGM source (Lacprodan® MFGM-10) at 6 g/L for the first 6 months of life had cumulative incidence of acute otitis media, from inclusion until 6 months of age, significantly lower than those fed a standard formula, but did not differ from the breastfed reference group. The incidence and longitudinal prevalence of antipyretic use were also significantly lower in the experimental group than the control group, during the intervention period.
A clinical study in infants and young children showed that infants and young children given MFGM-10 in a milk-based meal twice daily for 6 months (with an average daily intake of 5.9 g MFGM-10) had a significantly lower prevalence of diarrhea than the control group, in a double-blind randomized controlled-trial. In this study, infants were enrolled at 6-11 months of age, and fed for 6 months up to 12-17 months of age.
A clinical study in infants showed that an adapted low birth weight infant formula supplemented with gangliosides (1.43 mg gangliosides per 100 kcal) significantly reduced the fecal counts of the pathogenic E. coli and increased the fecal counts of the probiotic bifidobacteria in preterm infants compared to a standard adapted low birth weight infant formula without supplemental gangliosides.