Human milk proresolving mediators stimulate resolution of acute inflammation

Mucosal Immunol. 2016 May;9(3):757-766. doi: 10.1038/mi.2015.99. Epub 2015 Oct 14.


Human milk contains nutrients and bioactive products relevant to infant development and immunological protection. Here, we investigated the proresolving properties of milk using human milk lipid mediator isolates (HLMIs) and determined their impact on resolution programs in vivo and with human macrophages. HLMIs reduced the maximum neutrophil numbers (14.6±1.2 × 10(6)-11.0±1.0 × 10(6) cells per exudate) and shortened the resolution interval (Ri; 50% neutrophil reduction) by 54% compared with peritonitis. Using rigorous liquid-chromatography tandem-mass spectrometry (LC-MS-MS)-based lipid mediator (LM) metabololipidomics, we demonstrated that human milk possesses a proresolving LM-specialized proresolving mediator (LM-SPM) signature profile, containing SPMs (e.g. resolvins (Rv), protectins (PDs), maresins (MaRs), and lipoxins (LXs)) at bioactive levels (pico-nanomolar concentrations) that enhanced human macrophage efferocytosis and bacterial containment. SPMs identified in human milk included D-series Rvs (e.g., RvD1, RvD2, RvD3, AT-RvD3, and RvD4), PD1, MaR1, E-series Rvs (e.g. RvE1, RvE2, and RvE3), and LXs (LXA4 and LXB4). Of the SPMs identified in human milk, RvD2 and MaR1 (50 ng per mouse) individually shortened Ri by ∼75%. Milk from mastitis gave higher leukotriene B4 and prostanoids and lower SPM levels. Taken together, these findings provide evidence that human milk has proresolving actions via comprehensive LM-SPM profiling, describing a potentially novel mechanism in maternal-infant biochemical imprinting.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Animals
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / chemistry
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / metabolism*
  • Apoptosis
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Docosahexaenoic Acids / chemistry
  • Docosahexaenoic Acids / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Macrophages / immunology*
  • Male
  • Metabolomics
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred Strains
  • Milk, Human / chemistry
  • Milk, Human / metabolism*
  • Neutrophils / immunology*
  • Peritonitis / chemically induced
  • Peritonitis / immunology*
  • Phagocytosis


  • 7,14-dihydroxydocosa-4,8,10,12,16,19-hexaenoic acid
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • resolvin D2
  • Docosahexaenoic Acids