Glycomacropeptide and alpha-lactalbumin supplementation of infant formula affects growth and nutritional status in infant rhesus monkeys

Am J Clin Nutr. 2003 May;77(5):1261-8. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/77.5.1261.


Background: Advances in dairy technology make it possible to enrich infant formula with specific bovine milk components that may enhance nutrient status. Glycomacropeptide, a carbohydrate-rich casein peptide, may increase absorption of calcium, iron, or zinc. alpha-Lactalbumin, a major breast-milk protein, may contribute to a balanced amino acid pattern and increase calcium and zinc absorption.

Objective: We determined the effects of glycomacropeptide- and alpha-lactalbumin-supplemented infant formula on growth; trace mineral status; iron, zinc, and calcium absorption; and plasma amino acid, blood urea nitrogen, and plasma insulin concentrations.

Design: Infant rhesus monkeys (n = 5 infants per group) were breastfed or fed control or alpha-lactalbumin- or glycomacropeptide-supplemented formula from birth to 4 mo of age. Hematologic measures and growth were assessed monthly. Mineral absorption was measured with radioisotopes and whole body counting.

Results: Infants fed glycomacropeptide had higher food intake than did other formula-fed infants. Infants fed glycomacropeptide or control formula had higher hematocrit values than did infants that were breastfed or fed alpha-lactalbumin. Infants fed glycomacropeptide or control formula had higher plasma zinc and zinc absorption than did breastfed infants. Where differences were observed, breastfed infants and infants fed alpha-lactalbumin had similar plasma essential amino acid and insulin profiles, which were different from those of infants fed glycomacropeptide or control formula.

Conclusions: Glycomacropeptide- or alpha-lactalbumin-supplemented formula has no adverse effects on nutritional status in infant monkeys. Glycomacropeptide supplementation increases zinc absorption, which may permit the reduction of formula zinc concentrations, and alpha-lactalbumin supplementation promotes a plasma amino acid pattern similar to that of breastfed infant monkeys.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acids / blood
  • Amino Acids / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Blood Urea Nitrogen
  • Calcium / pharmacokinetics
  • Caseins / administration & dosage
  • Caseins / chemistry
  • Caseins / pharmacology*
  • Child Development
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Glycopeptides / administration & dosage
  • Glycopeptides / pharmacology*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant Food
  • Infant Nutritional Physiological Phenomena*
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Intestinal Absorption / drug effects
  • Iron / pharmacokinetics
  • Lactalbumin / administration & dosage
  • Lactalbumin / pharmacology*
  • Macaca mulatta / growth & development*
  • Milk / chemistry
  • Milk, Human / chemistry
  • Models, Animal
  • Nutritional Status
  • Trace Elements / pharmacokinetics
  • Zinc / pharmacokinetics


  • Amino Acids
  • Caseins
  • Glycopeptides
  • Trace Elements
  • Lactalbumin
  • Iron
  • Zinc
  • Calcium