Human Milk Oligosaccharide Profile across Lactation Stages in Israeli Women-A Prospective Observational Study

Nutrients. 2023 May 30;15(11):2548. doi: 10.3390/nu15112548.


Human milk oligosaccharides (HMOs) stimulate the growth of gut commensals, prevent the adhesion of enteropathogens and modulate host immunity. The major factors influencing variations in the HMO profile are polymorphisms in the secretor (Se) or Lewis (Le) gene, which affect the activity of the enzymes fucoslytransferase 2 and 3 (FUT2 and FUT3) that lead to the formation of four major fucosylated and non-fucosylated oligosaccharides (OS). This pilot study aimed to determine the HMO profile of Israeli breastfeeding mothers of 16 term and 4 preterm infants, from a single tertiary center in the Tel Aviv area. Fifty-two human milk samples were collected from 20 mothers at three-time points: colostrum, transitional milk and mature milk. The concentrations of nine HMOs were assessed using liquid chromatography coupled with mass spectra chromatograms. Fifty-five percent of the mothers were secretors and 45% were non-secretors. Infant sex affected HMO levels depending on the maternal secretor status. Secretor mothers to boys had higher levels of FUT2-dependent OS and higher levels of disialyllacto-N-tetraose in the milk of mothers to girls, whereas non-secretor mothers to girls had higher levels of 3'-sialyllactose. In addition, the season at which the human milk samples were obtained affected the levels of some HMOs, resulting in significantly lower levels in the summer. Our findings provide novel information on the irregularity in the HMO profile among Israeli lactating women and identify several factors contributing to this variability.

Keywords: human breast milk (HM); human milk indigestible oligosaccharides (HMOs); lactation stages; non-secretors; secretors.

Publication types

  • Observational Study

MeSH terms

  • Breast Feeding
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Premature
  • Israel
  • Lactation*
  • Male
  • Milk, Human* / chemistry
  • Oligosaccharides / analysis
  • Pilot Projects


  • Oligosaccharides