Food Science and Technology Department


Date of this Version



Kok et al. BMC Microbiology (2020) 20:337


The Author(s). 2020


Background: Early infant feeding with intact or extensively hydrolyzed (EH) proteins or free amino acids (AA) may differentially affect intestinal microbiota composition and immune reactivity. This multicenter, double-blind, controlled, parallel-group, pilot study compared stool microbiota from Baseline (1–7 days of age) up to 60 days of age in healthy term infants who received mother’s own milk (assigned to human milk [HM] reference group) (n = 25) or were randomized to receive one of two infant formulas: AA-based (AAF; n = 25) or EH cow’s milk protein (EHF; n = 28). Stool samples were collected (Baseline, Day 30, Day 60) and 16S rRNA genes were sequenced. Alpha (Shannon, Simpson, Chao1) and beta diversity (Bray Curtis) were analyzed. Relative taxonomic enrichment and fold changes were analyzed (Wilcoxon, DESEq2). Short/branched chain fatty acids (S/BCFA) were quantified by gas chromatography. Mean S/BCFA and pH were analyzed (repeated measures ANOVA).

Results: At baseline, alpha diversity measures were similar among all groups; however, both study formula groups were significantly higher versus the HM group by Day 60. Significant group differences in beta diversity at Day 60 were also detected, and study formula groups were compositionally more similar compared to HM. The relative abundance of Bifidobacterium increased over time and was significantly enriched at Day 60 in the HM group. In contrast, a significant increase in members of Firmicutes for study formula groups were detected at Day 60 along with butyrate-producing species in the EHF group. Stool pH was significantly higher in the AAF group at Days 30 and 60. Butyrate increased significantly from Baseline to Day 60 in the EHF group and was significantly higher in study formula groups vs HM at Day 60. Propionate was also significantly higher for EHF and AAF at Day 30 and AAF at Day 60 vs HM. Total and individual BCFA were higher for AAF and EHF groups vs HM through Day 60.

Conclusions: Distinct patterns of early neonatal microbiome, pH, and microbial metabolites were demonstrated for infants receiving mother’s own milk compared to AA-based or extensively hydrolyzed protein formula. Providing different sources of dietary protein early in life may influence gut microbiota and metabolites.

Trial registration: Identifier: NCT02500563. Registered July 28, 2015.

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