Regulation of appetite and food intake is partly regulated by N-acylethanolamine lipids oleoylethanolamide (OEA), stearoylethanolamide (SEA), and palmitoylethanolamide (PEA), which induce satiety through endogenous formation in the small intestine upon feeding, but also when orally or systemic administered. OEA, SEA, and PEA are present in human milk, and we hypothesized that the content of OEA, SEA, and PEA in mother's milk differed for infants being heavy (high weight-for-age Z-score (WAZ)) or light (low WAZ) at time of milk sample collection. Ultra-high performance liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry was used to determine the concentration of OEA, SEA, and PEA in milk samples collected four months postpartum from mothers to high (n = 50) or low (n = 50) WAZ infants. Associations between OEA, SEA, and PEA concentration and infant anthropometry at four months of age as well as growth from birth were investigated using linear and logistic regression analyses, adjusted for birth weight, early infant formula supplementation, and maternal pre-pregnancy body mass index. Mean OEA, SEA, and PEA concentrations were lower in the high compared to the low WAZ group (all p < 0.02), and a higher concentration of SEA was associated with lower anthropometric measures, e.g., triceps skinfold thickness (mm) (β = -2.235, 95% CI = -4.04, -0.43, p = 0.016), and weight gain per day since birth (g) (β = -8.169, 95% CI = -15.26, -1.08, p = 0.024). This raises the possibility, that the content of satiety factors OEA, SEA, and PEA in human milk may affect infant growth.
Keywords: N-acylethanolamines; OEA; PEA; SEA; appetite regulation; breastfeeding; human milk composition; infant growth; obesity.