Background: Osteopontin (OPN), a multifunctional protein, is present abundantly in human milk, but not in bovine milk and infant formulas. A recent randomized clinical trial showed that supplementing infant formula with bovine milk OPN (bOPN) resulted in better immune outcomes.
Methods: Human milk OPN (hOPN) concentrations were analyzed by ELISA. Plasma samples were obtained from infants receiving one of four treatments: breast milk (BF), unsupplemented formula (F0), formula supplemented with 65 mg/L bOPN (F65), or with 130 mg/L bOPN (F130). Plasma samples were analyzed for hOPN and bOPN by ELISA.
Results: The hOPN concentration was high in early lactation (D1 to D8), decreased gradually after D9, and deceased significantly after 1 month. At 4 and 6 months, higher levels of hOPN were found in plasma samples from the BF, F65, and F130 groups than in samples from the F0 group; the plasma bOPN concentration in the F130 group was greater than that in the F65 group.
Conclusion: Dynamic changes in the concentration of milk OPN may reflect infant needs for different amounts of milk OPN for various functions at different developmental stages. Supplemental bOPN in infant formula may exert its beneficial effects by increasing endogenous OPN in plasma.