Sialylated human milk oligosaccharides (HMO), such as 3′-sialyllactose (3′-SL) and 6′-sialyllactose (6′-SL), are abundant throughout lactation and at much higher concentrations than are present in bovine milk or infant formulas. Previous studies have suggested that sialylated HMO may have neurocognitive benefits in early life. Recent research has focused on infant formula supplementation with key nutrients and bioactives to narrow the developmental gap between formula-fed and breastfed infants. Herein, we investigated the impact of supplemental 3′-SL or 6′-SL on cognitive and brain development at two time-points [postnatal days (PND) 33 and 61]. Two-day-old piglets (N = 75) were randomly assigned to commercial milk replacer ad libitum without or with 3′-SL or 6′-SL (added in a powdered form at a rate of 0.2673% on an as-is weight basis). Cognitive development was assessed via novel object recognition and results were not significant at both time-points (p > 0.05). Magnetic resonance imaging was used to assess structural brain development. Results varied between scan type, diet, and time-point. A main effect of diet was observed for absolute volume of white matter and 9 other regions of interest (ROI), as well as for relative volume of the pons on PND 30 (p < 0.05). Similar effects were observed on PND 58. Diffusion tensor imaging indicated minimal differences on PND 30 (p > 0.05). However, several dietary differences across the diffusion outcomes were observed on PND 58 (p < 0.05) indicating dietary impacts on brain microstructure. Minimal dietary differences were observed from myelin water fraction imaging at either time-point. Overall, sialyllactose supplementation had no effects on learning and memory as assessed by novel object recognition, but may influence temporally-dependent aspects of brain development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1337897
JournalFrontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience
StatePublished - 2023


  • 3′-sialyllactose
  • 6′-sialyllactose
  • MRI
  • brain development
  • cognition
  • sialic acid

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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