Heat susceptibility of interleukin-10 and other cytokines in donor human milk

Peter B. Untalan, Susan E. Keeney, Kimberly H. Palkowetz, Audelio Rivera, Armond S. Goldman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


Objective: Holder pasteurization renders donor human milk safe for consumption. Because human milk reduces the risk of necrotizing enterocolitis in preterm infants, we tested whether Holder pasteurization affects certain factors in human milk that protect the intestines: epidermal growth factor (EGF), transforming growth factor (TGF)-β1, erythropoietin (EPO), and interleukin (IL)-10. Donor human milk from a milk bank was examined. Methods: The aqueous phase of 17 samples of donor term human milk (mean duration of lactation, 8 ± 3.5 months) was examined before and after Holder pasteurization. In the case of IL-10, lesser degrees of pasteurization were also evaluated. The agents were quantified using enzyme immunoassays. The function of IL-10 was also tested. Results: Concentrations of EGF and IL-10 were markedly lower than previously reported values in human milk from earlier phases of lactation. Holder pasteurization significantly reduced the concentrations of EPO and IL-10, whereas lesser degrees of heating increased the detection of IL-10. The immunosuppression of T-cell proliferation by human milk, thought to be attributed to IL-10 alone, persisted after Holder pasteurization. Conclusions: Holder pasteurization greatly decreased concentrations of EPO and IL-10 in human milk. These decreases may impact the ability of human milk to protect against necrotizing enterocolitis. Evidence of possible binding of IL-10 to other proteins in human milk was also found. Experiments to test whether Holder pasteurization affects the function of IL-10 in human milk produced evidence for an agent in human milk other than IL-10 that inhibits T-cell proliferation and resists Holder pasteurization.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)137-144
Number of pages8
JournalBreastfeeding Medicine
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 2009
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics
  • Health Policy
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Maternity and Midwifery


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