Human Milk Oligosaccharides as Modulators of Intestinal and Systemic Immunity

Sarah S. Comstock, Sharon M. Donovan

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


The immune system of the newborn is naïve and quantitatively as well as qualitatively different from that of an adult. Human milk has evolved to protect the infant during this high-risk period. This milk contains compounds, including complex oligosaccharides (HMOs) that stimulate intestinal development, protect the infant from pathogenic infection, promote immune tolerance, and facilitate the establishment of the gut microbiota. Oligosaccharides are important with respect to the immune response. The bioactivity of oligosaccharides is highly dependent on the specific glycan structures that they contain. This chapter reviews immunity, the role of glycans in the immune response, and the evidence for HMOs as modulators of the infant's gastrointestinal and systemic immune systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationPrebiotics and Probiotics in Human Milk
Subtitle of host publicationOrigins and Functions of Milk-Borne Oligosaccharides and Bacteria
PublisherElsevier Inc.
Number of pages26
ISBN (Print)9780128027257
StatePublished - 2017


  • Glycan
  • Human milk
  • Immunity
  • Infant
  • Oligosaccharide

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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