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Efforts to emulate human milk oligosaccharides

  • Rosa María Espinosa (a1), Martha Taméz (a1) and Pedro Prieto (a1)


Research on human milk oligosaccharides (HMO) began with the characterisation of their chemical structures and is now focused on the elucidation of their biological roles. Previously, biological effects could only be investigated with fractions or structures isolated from breast milk; consequently, clinical observations were limited to comparisons between outcomes from breast-fed infants and their formula-fed counterparts. In some cases, it was inferred that the observed differences were caused by the presence of HMO in breast milk. Presently, analytical techniques allow for the fast analysis of milk samples, thus providing insights on the inherent variability of specimens. In addition, methods for the synthesis of HMO have provided single structures in sufficient quantities to perform clinical studies with oligosaccharide-supplemented formulae. Furthermore, studies have been conducted with non-mammalian oligosaccharides with the purpose of assessing the suitability of these structures to functionally emulate HMO. Taken together, these developments justify summarising current knowledge on HMO to further discussions on efforts to emulate human milk in regard to its oligosaccharide content. The present account summarises published data and intends to provide an historical context and to illustrate the state of the field.

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Corresponding author

*Corresponding author: Dr Pedro Antonio Prieto – Dirección General Tecnológico de Monterrey – Campus Ciudad de México Calle del Puente 222 1438 Tlalpan México D.F., México Tel +52 (55)5483 1604. Fax +52 (55)5483 1606 email


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Efforts to emulate human milk oligosaccharides

  • Rosa María Espinosa (a1), Martha Taméz (a1) and Pedro Prieto (a1)


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