Effects of a human milk oligosaccharide, 2'-fucosyllactose, on hippocampal long-term potentiation and learning capabilities in rodents

J Nutr Biochem. 2015 May;26(5):455-65. doi: 10.1016/j.jnutbio.2014.11.016. Epub 2015 Jan 15.


Human milk oligosaccharides (HMOs) are unique with regard to their diversity, quantity and complexity, particularly in comparison to bovine milk oligosaccharides. HMOs are associated with functional development during early life, mainly related to immunity and intestinal health. Whether HMOs elicit a positive effect on cognitive capabilities of lactating infants remains an open question. This study evaluated the role of the most abundant HMO, 2'-fucosyllactose (2'-FL), in synaptic plasticity and learning capabilities in rodents. Mice and rats were prepared for the chronic recording of field excitatory postsynaptic potentials evoked at the hippocampal CA3-CA1 synapse. Following chronic oral administration of 2'-FL, both species showed improvements in input/output curves and in long-term potentiation (LTP) evoked experimentally in alert behaving animals. This effect on LTP was related to better performance of animals in various types of learning behavioral tests. Mice were tested for spatial learning, working memory and operant conditioning using the IntelliCage system, while rats were submitted to a fixed-ratio schedule in the Skinner box. In both cases, 2'-FL-treated animals performed significantly better than controls. In addition, chronic administration of 2'-FL increased the expression of different molecules involved in the storage of newly acquired memories, such as the postsynaptic density protein 95, phosphorylated calcium/calmodulin-dependent kinase II and brain-derived neurotrophic factor in cortical and subcortical structures. Taken together, the data show that dietary 2'-FL affects cognitive domains and improves learning and memory in rodents.

Keywords: 2′-Fucosyllactose; Cognition; Human milk oligosaccharides; IntelliCage; Long-term potentiation; Synaptic plasticity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Hippocampus / drug effects*
  • Hippocampus / physiology
  • Humans
  • Learning / drug effects*
  • Long-Term Potentiation / drug effects*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Milk, Human
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Trisaccharides / pharmacology*


  • Trisaccharides
  • 2'-fucosyllactose