Use of batch culture and a two-stage continuous culture system to study the effect of supplemental alpha-lactalbumin and glycomacropeptide on mixed populations of human gut bacteria

FEMS Microbiol Ecol. 2002 Sep 1;41(3):231-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1574-6941.2002.tb00984.x.


Certain milk factors can promote the growth of a host-friendly gastrointestinal microflora. This may explain why breast-fed infants experience fewer intestinal infections than their formula-fed counterparts. The effect of formula supplementation with two such factors was investigated in this study. Infant faecal specimens were used to ferment formulas supplemented with glycomacropeptide and alpha-lactalbumin in a two-stage compound continuous culture model. Bacteriology was determined by fluorescence in situ hybridisation. Vessels that contained breast milk as well as alpha-lactalbumin and glycomacropeptide had stable counts of bifidobacteria while lactobacilli increased significantly only in vessels with breast milk. Bacteroides, clostridia and Escherichia coli decreased significantly in all runs. Acetate was the principal acid found along with high amounts of propionate and lactate. Supplementation of infant formulas with appropriate milk proteins may be useful in simulating the beneficial bacteriological effects of breast milk.