A recent report from Hans Demmelmair, Christine Prell, Niklas Timby and Bo Lönnerdal published in Nutrients.
The provision of essential and non-essential amino acids for breast-fed infants is the major function of milk proteins. In addition, breast-fed infants might benefit from bioactivities of milk proteins, which are exhibited in the intestine during the digestive phase and by absorption of intact proteins or derived peptides.
For lactoferrin, osteopontin and milk fat globule membrane proteins/lipids, which have not until recently been included in substantial amounts in infant formulas, in vitro experiments and animal models provide a convincing base of evidence for bioactivities, which contribute to the protection of the infant from pathogens, improve nutrient absorption, support the development of the immune system and provide components for optimal neurodevelopment.
Technologies have become available to obtain these compounds from cow´s milk and the bovine compounds also exhibit bioactivities in humans.
The bioactivities of human milk components in the infant intestine and on a systemic level are in many cases not provided by current formula milk components. This difference may in part explain the advantage of breast-feeding in respect to short term effects on infant health, e.g., incidence of infectious diseases, and long term outcomes, such as the risk for obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cognitive performance compared to formula-feeding. The availability of some corresponding components from bovine milk or biotechnological production offers the possibility to include these components into formulas and to further close the gap between formula-feeding and breast-feeding.