Cells of human breast milk

Cell Mol Biol Lett. 2017 Jul 13;22:11. doi: 10.1186/s11658-017-0042-4. eCollection 2017.


Human milk is a complex fluid that has developed to satisfy the nutritional requirements of infants. In addition to proteins, lipids, carbohydrates and other biologically active components, breast milk contains a diverse microbiome that is presumed to colonize the infant gastrointestinal tract and a heterogeneous population of cells with unclear physiological roles and health implications. Noteworthy cellular components of breast milk include progenitor/stem cells. This review summarizes the current state of knowledge of breast milk cells, including leukocytes, epithelial cells, stem cells and potentially probiotic bacteria.

Keywords: Human breast milk; Leukocytes; Microbiome; Probiotic bacteria; Stem cells.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bacteria
  • Epithelial Cells
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Leukocytes
  • Microbiota
  • Milk, Human / cytology*
  • Milk, Human / microbiology
  • Probiotics
  • Stem Cells