A novel infant milk formula concept: Mimicking the human milk fat globule structure

Colloids Surf B Biointerfaces. 2015 Dec 1:136:329-39. doi: 10.1016/j.colsurfb.2015.09.024. Epub 2015 Sep 15.


Human milk (HM) provides all nutrients to support an optimal growth and development of the neonate. The composition and structure of HM lipids, the most important energy provider, have an impact on the digestion, uptake and metabolism of lipids. In HM, the lipids are present in the form of dispersed fat globules: large fat droplets enveloped by a phospholipid membrane. Currently, infant milk formula (Control IMF) contains small fat droplets primarily coated by proteins. Recently, a novel IMF concept (Concept IMF) was developed with a different lipid architecture, Nuturis(®), comprising large fat droplets with a phospholipid coating. Confocal laser scanning microscopy (CLSM), with appropriate fluorescent probes, and transmission electron microscopy were used to determine and compare the interfacial composition and structure of HM fat globules, Concept IMF fat droplets and Control IMF fat droplets. The presence of a trilayer-structured HM fat globule membrane, composed of phospholipids, proteins, glycoproteins and cholesterol, was confirmed; in addition exosome-like vesicles are observed within cytoplasmic crescents. The Control IMF fat droplets had a thick protein-only interface. The Concept IMF fat droplets showed a very thin interface composed of a mixture of phospholipids, proteins and cholesterol. Furthermore, the Concept IMF contained fragments of milk fat globule membrane, which has been suggested to have potential biological functions in infants. By mimicking more closely the structure and composition of HM fat globules, this novel IMF concept with Nuturis(®) may have metabolic and digestive properties that are more similar to HM compared to Control IMF.

Keywords: Human milk fat globule; Infant milk formula; Milk fat globule membrane; Milk phospholipids; Transmission electron microscopy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Glycolipids / chemistry*
  • Glycoproteins / chemistry*
  • Humans
  • Infant Formula / chemistry*
  • Lipid Droplets
  • Microscopy, Electron, Transmission
  • Milk, Human
  • Molecular Structure
  • Particle Size


  • Glycolipids
  • Glycoproteins
  • milk fat globule