Oral supplementation of 2'-fucosyllactose during lactation improves memory and learning in rats

J Nutr Biochem. 2016 May;31:20-7. doi: 10.1016/j.jnutbio.2015.12.014. Epub 2016 Jan 26.


Human milk oligosaccharides have been proposed to exert beneficial effects on brain development. During the last decades, most of the studies have focused on the evaluation of sialylated structures but recent experiments have also tested fucosylated oligosaccharides, i.e. 2'-fucosyllactose (2'-FL). The present study aimed to determine whether oral 2'-FL has an effect on the development of newborn brain, contributing to enhance cognitive skills later in life. Rat pups received an oral supplementation of 2'-FL (2'-FL group) or water (control group) during the lactation period. Thereafter, animals were maintained on a rodent standard diet. Rats (n=12 rats/group) were evaluated twice, at age 4-6weeks and again at age 1year, using classical behavioral tests. In vivo long-term potentiation (LTP) was also performed at the same ages (n=10 rats/group). Both groups showed similar behavior when the animals were assessed just after weaning (age 4-6weeks), although the 2'-FL group seemed to perform slightly better in Morris Water Maze. At age 1year, 2'-FL rats performed significantly better in the Novel Object Recognition and Y maze paradigms, when compared to controls. In addition, LTP was more intense and longer lasting in the rats supplemented with 2'-FL than in control animals, both in young and adult animals. Oral administration of 2'-FL exclusively during lactation enhanced cognitive abilities, not only in childhood but also in adulthood.

Keywords: 2′-Fucosyllactose; Cognitive development; Early Nutrition; Infant formula; Milk oligosaccharides.

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal / drug effects
  • Female
  • Long-Term Potentiation / drug effects
  • Male
  • Maze Learning / drug effects
  • Pregnancy
  • Rats
  • Trisaccharides / administration & dosage*


  • Trisaccharides
  • 2'-fucosyllactose