Ribonucleotides: conditionally essential nutrients shown to enhance immune function and reduce diarrheal disease in infants

Semin Fetal Neonatal Med. 2007 Feb;12(1):35-44. doi: 10.1016/j.siny.2006.10.005. Epub 2006 Nov 30.


It remains a goal of pediatric nutrition to provide optimal nourishment for infants who are not fed human milk. Investigators have attempted to emulate the composition and functionality of human milk, the gold standard for infant nutrition. These efforts began with the analysis of milk components and continued with assessments of biological effects that culminated in clinical studies in infants. This chapter summarizes the path that researchers followed to study ribonucleotides and their role in infant nutrition. Based on analytical methods for the quantification of ribonucleotides in human milk, investigators assessed their potential impact on the immune systems of infants and looked for concomitant mechanistic explanations. These inquiries evolved into clinical trials in which ribonucleotide-supplemented formula performance was compared with that of non-supplemented formulas and with human milk. This chapter intends to summarize an area of pediatric nutrition that has yielded both enlightening evidence and seemingly contradictory data.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Diarrhea, Infantile / prevention & control*
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Humans
  • Immune System / drug effects
  • Infant Food*
  • Infant Nutritional Physiological Phenomena
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Milk, Human*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Ribonucleotides / administration & dosage*


  • Ribonucleotides