This study builds on a previous study by this group in which 6-11-month-old Peruvian infants who were fed bovine milk fat globule membrane (MFGM) containing complementary food had significantly fewer episodes of infection-related bloody diarrhea relative to those consuming a control food (skim milk powder). Micronutrient deficiencies including zinc deficiency were prevalent in this study population. To understand the mechanism behind the health benefits of consuming MFGM, the serum metabolome and cytokine levels, as markers for systemic immune responses, were evaluated using 1H nuclear magnetic resonance-based metabolomics and a multiplex system, respectively. Combined with data on micronutrient status and anthropometry, a comparative analysis was performed. Supplementation with MFGM tended to improve micronutrient status, energy metabolism, and growth reflected as increased levels of circulating amino acids and weight gain, particularly in female infants compared to controls. Decreased levels of the microbial choline metabolite trimethylamine-N-oxide in the MFGM-supplemented group (both male and female infants) suggest a functional perturbation in the intestinal microbiota. A cytokine shift toward a less T helper type 1 response was observed in those receiving the MFGM supplement, which was mainly attributed to decreases in interleukin-2 levels. Our findings suggest that consumption of MFGM with complementary food may reverse the metabolic abnormalities found in marginally nourished infants, thereby improving metabolic regulation, which may lead to enhanced immunity.
Keywords: Developing world; Metabolomics.