Browsing by Organization "Helsingfors universitet, agrikultur-forstvetenskapliga fakulteten, institutionen för tillämpad kemi och mikrobiologi"

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  • Heikkilä, Mari (Helsingin yliopisto, 2007)
    The chemical composition of breast milk has been studied in detail in the past decades. Hundreds of new antibacterial and antiviral components have been found. Several molecules have been found to promote the proper function of neonatal intestine. However, microbiological studies of breast milk have been, until recently, focused mainly on detecting harmful and pathogenic bacteria and viruses. Natural microbial diversity of human milk has not been widely studied before the work reported in this thesis. This is mainly because breast milk has traditionally been thought to be sterile - even if a certain amount of commensal bacteria have usually been detected in milk samples. The first part of this licentiate thesis contains a short literature review about the anatomy and physiology of breast feeding, human milk chemical and microbiological composition, mastitis, intestinal flora and bacteriocins. The second part reports on the experiments of the licentiate work, concentrating on the microbial diversity in the milk of healthy breast-feeding mothers, and the ability of these bacteria to produce antibacterial substances against pathogenic bacteria. The results indicate that human milk is a source of commensal bacteria for infant intestine. 509 random isolates from 40 breast milk samples were isolated and identified by 16S rRNA sequencing. Median bacterial count was about 600 colony forming units per milliliter. Over half of the isolates were staphylococci, and almost one third streptococci. The most common species were skin bacteria Staphylococcus epidermidis and oral bacteria Streptococcus salivarius and Streptococcus mitis. Lactic acid bacteria, identified as members of Lactobacillus-, Lactococcus- and Leuconostoc -genera, were found in five milk samples. Enterococci were found in three samples. A novel finding in this study is the capability of these commensal bacteria to inhibit the growth of pathogens. In 90 precent of the milk samples commensal bacteria inhibiting the growth of Staphylococcus aureus were found. In 40 precent of samples the colonies could block the growth completely. One fifth of the isolated Staph. epidermidis strains, half of Str. salivarius strains, and all lactic acid bacteria and enterococci could inhibit or block the growth of Staph. aureus. In further study also Listeria innocua- and Micrococcus luteus active isolates were found in 33 and 11 precent of milk samples (out of 140). Furthermore, two Lactococcus lactis isolates from the breast milk were shown to produce bacteriocin nisin, which is an antimicrobial molecule used as a food preservative. The importance of these human milk commensal bacteria in the development of newborn intestinal flora and immune system, as well as in preventing maternal breast infections, should be further explored.