Temporal Changes of Protein Composition in Breast Milk of Chinese Urban Mothers and Impact of Caesarean Section Delivery

Nutrients. 2016 Aug 17;8(8):504. doi: 10.3390/nu8080504.


Human breast milk (BM) protein composition may be impacted by lactation stage or factors related to geographical location. The present study aimed at assessing the temporal changes of BM major proteins over lactation stages and the impact of mode of delivery on immune factors, in a large cohort of urban mothers in China. 450 BM samples, collected in three Chinese cities, covering 8 months of lactation were analyzed for α-lactalbumin, lactoferrin, serum albumin, total caseins, immunoglobulins (IgA, IgM and IgG) and transforming growth factor (TGF) β1 and β2 content by microfluidic chip- or ELISA-based quantitative methods. Concentrations and changes over lactation were aligned with previous reports. α-lactalbumin, lactoferrin, IgA, IgM and TGF-β1 contents followed similar variations characterized by highest concentrations in early lactation that rapidly decreased before remaining stable up to end of lactation. TGF-β2 content displayed same early dynamics before increasing again. Total caseins followed a different pattern, showing initial increase before decreasing back to starting values. Serum albumin and IgG levels appeared stable throughout lactation. In conclusion, BM content in major proteins of urban mothers in China was comparable with previous studies carried out in other parts of the world and C-section delivery had only very limited impact on BM immune factors.

Keywords: CAESAREAN-section; Chinese mothers; breast milk; immune factors; proteins.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cesarean Section / adverse effects*
  • China
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Female
  • Geography
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulins / analysis
  • Lactation*
  • Milk Proteins / analysis*
  • Milk, Human / chemistry*
  • Mothers / statistics & numerical data
  • Time Factors*
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta1 / analysis
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta2 / analysis
  • Urban Population / statistics & numerical data


  • Immunoglobulins
  • Milk Proteins
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta1
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta2