Background & aims: Bilirubin is a natural and potent antioxidant that accumulates in the blood of newborn children and leads to physiological jaundice. Breastfed infants have higher serum levels of bilirubin than formula-fed infants and are at risk for bilirubin-induced neurological dysfunction (BIND). Clearance of bilirubin requires the expression of uridine diphosphate glucuronosyltransferase (UGT) 1A1; we investigated its role in the association between breast feeding with jaundice in mice.
Methods: We studied mice in which the original Ugt1 locus was disrupted and replaced with the human UGT1 locus (hUGT1 mice); these mice spontaneously develop neonatal hyperbilirubinemia and BIND. We fed human breast milk or formula to neonatal hUGT1 mice and examined activation of the intestinal xenobiotic receptors pregnane X receptor and constitutive androstane receptor. We also examined inflammatory signaling pathways in mice with disruptions in IκB-kinase-α and IκB kinase-β in the intestinal epithelium.
Results: hUGT1 mice that were fed breast milk developed severe hyperbilirubinemia because of suppression of UGT1A1 in the gastrointestinal tract. Formula-fed hUGT1 mice had lower serum levels of bilirubin, which resulted from induction of UGT1A1 in the gastrointestinal tract. hUGT1/Pxr-null mice did not develop severe hyperbilirubinemia, whereas hUGT1/Car-null mice were susceptible to BIND when they were fed breast milk. Breast milk appeared to suppress intestinal IκB kinase α and β, resulting in inactivation of nuclear factor-κB and loss of expression of UGT1A1, leading to hyperbilirubinemia.
Conclusions: Breast milk reduces expression of intestinal UGT1A1, which leads to hyperbilirubinemia and BIND; suppression of this gene appears to involve inactivation of nuclear factor-κB. Hyperbilirubinemia can be reduced by activation of pregnane X receptor, constitutive androstane receptor, or nuclear factor-κB.
Copyright © 2012 AGA Institute. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.