Objectives: Osteopontin (OPN) is a multifunctional protein expressed in many cell types, tissues and body fluids with the highest concentrations found in milk; significantly higher in human than in bovine milk. Intervention studies have indicated beneficial effects of supplementing infant formula with bovine OPN. In this multicenter study, we determined the OPN content in human milk samples from 629 Chinese, Danish, Japanese and Korean mothers.
Methods: At each study site, milk samples were collected and analyzed for OPN and protein concentration using ELISA and infrared spectroscopy, respectively.
Results: A total of 829 milk samples from 629 women were included. When delivering the first sample, mean maternal age was 31.4 years (SD 4.0), and median infant age was 13.4 weeks (interquartile range 4.6-17.9). The median OPN concentration varied across sites; from 99.7 mg/L in Danish, 185.0 mg/L in Japanese, 216.2 mg/L in Korean to 266.2 mg/L in Chinese mothers (P < 0.001), corresponding to 1.3%, 2.4%, 1.8% and 2.7% of the total protein content (OPN/protein%) (P < 0.05), respectively. Based on 75 Chinese and 33 Japanese mothers delivering more than 1 sample, multilevel (mixed model) linear regression analysis showed a decrease in OPN concentration with infant age (β = (-11.3), 95% confidence interval (CI) = (-13.9) to (-8.8) and β = (-2.1), 95% CI = (-3.2) to (-0.9), respectively).
Conclusions: In this large multicenter study, we observed statistically significant differences in the OPN concentration and the OPN/protein% in human milk samples between countries. Based on mothers delivering more than 1 sample, a significant decrease within the lactation period was observed.