(HealthDay News) – Infant formulas may not support biofilm growth as effectively as human milk does, according to a study published in the August issue of Current Nutrition & Food Science.

Angela Q Zhang, and colleagues from Duke University in Durham, NC, compared the intercellular association of Escherichia coli by human whey in vitro with that by purified secretory immunoglobulin A (SIgA, a microbial agglutinin found in human milk), by infant formulas, and by bovine whey.

The researchers found that, unlike SIgA, human whey mediated bacterial aggregation and biofilm formation, and this process was independent of the type 1 pilus. Bacterial aggregation was mediated over a broader range of bacterial concentrations by human whey than SIgA, with human whey affecting the aggregation of bacteria at 1,000-fold lower concentrations than could be mediated by SIgA. Planktonic bacterial growth, but not intercellular bacterial association, was mediated by infant formulas and bovine whey, regardless of the expression of the type 1 pilus.

“These studies provide insight into how human milk might protect against infections and illnesses, and also provide a possible approach by which infant formulas may be developed and tested to more accurately mimic interactions of human milk with enteric flora, potentially improving the efficacy and health benefits of those formulas,” the authors write.

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