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Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2015, 12(11), 13981-14020; doi:10.3390/ijerph121113981

MicroRNAs in Breastmilk and the Lactating Breast: Potential Immunoprotectors and Developmental Regulators for the Infant and the Mother

1
School of Chemistry and Biochemistry, The University of Western Australia, Crawley 6009, Western Australia, Australia
2
College of Applied Medical Sciences, Majmaah University, Almajmaah, Riyadh 11952, Saudi Arabia
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Jane Scott and Colin Binns
Received: 30 September 2015 / Revised: 21 October 2015 / Accepted: 27 October 2015 / Published: 30 October 2015
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Breastfeeding and Infant Health)
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Abstract

Human milk (HM) is the optimal source of nutrition, protection and developmental programming for infants. It is species-specific and consists of various bioactive components, including microRNAs, small non-coding RNAs regulating gene expression at the post-transcriptional level. microRNAs are both intra- and extra-cellular and are present in body fluids of humans and animals. Of these body fluids, HM appears to be one of the richest sources of microRNA, which are highly conserved in its different fractions, with milk cells containing more microRNAs than milk lipids, followed by skim milk. Potential effects of exogenous food-derived microRNAs on gene expression have been demonstrated, together with the stability of milk-derived microRNAs in the gastrointestinal tract. Taken together, these strongly support the notion that milk microRNAs enter the systemic circulation of the HM fed infant and exert tissue-specific immunoprotective and developmental functions. This has initiated intensive research on the origin, fate and functional significance of milk microRNAs. Importantly, recent studies have provided evidence of endogenous synthesis of HM microRNA within the human lactating mammary epithelium. These findings will now form the basis for investigations of the role of microRNA in the epigenetic control of normal and aberrant mammary development, and particularly lactation performance. View Full-Text
Keywords: human milk; breastmilk; breastfeeding; RNA; microRNA; cells; lipids; skim milk; immune system; development; infant formula human milk; breastmilk; breastfeeding; RNA; microRNA; cells; lipids; skim milk; immune system; development; infant formula
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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Alsaweed, M.; Hartmann, P.E.; Geddes, D.T.; Kakulas, F. MicroRNAs in Breastmilk and the Lactating Breast: Potential Immunoprotectors and Developmental Regulators for the Infant and the Mother. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2015, 12, 13981-14020.

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