Author(s): Hill DR, Rho HK, Kessler SP, Amin R, Homer CR,
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Abstract Breast-feeding is associated with enhanced protection from gastrointestinal disease in infants, mediated in part by an array of bioactive glycan components in milk that act through molecular mechanisms to inhibit enteric pathogen infection. Human milk contains hyaluronan (HA), a glycosaminoglycan polymer found in virtually all mammalian tissues. We have shown that synthetic HA of a specific size range promotes expression of antimicrobial peptides in intestinal epithelium. We hypothesize that hyaluronan from human milk also enhances innate antimicrobial defense. Here we define the concentration of HA in human milk during the first 6 months postpartum. Importantly, HA isolated from milk has a biological function. Treatment of HT-29 colonic epithelial cells with human milk HA at physiologic concentrations results in time- and dose-dependent induction of the antimicrobial peptide human β-defensin 2 and is abrogated by digestion of milk HA with a specific hyaluronidase. Milk HA induction of human β-defensin 2 expression is also reduced in the presence of a CD44-blocking antibody and is associated with a specific increase in ERK1/2 phosphorylation, suggesting a role for the HA receptor CD44. Furthermore, oral administration of human milk-derived HA to adult, wild-type mice results in induction of the murine Hβ D2 ortholog in intestinal mucosa and is dependent upon both TLR4 and CD44 in vivo. Finally, treatment of cultured colonic epithelial cells with human milk HA enhances resistance to infection by the enteric pathogen Salmonella typhimurium. Together, our observations suggest that maternally provided HA stimulates protective antimicrobial defense in the newborn.
This article was published in J Biol Chem
and referenced in Journal of Veterinary Science & Technology