The effects of fortified human milk feedings on the urinary excretion of lactoferrin, lysozyme, secretory component, IgA, and secretory IgA antibodies to Escherichia coli O antigens were investigated in very low birth wt infants. Infants were maintained on either a human milk or a cow’s milk preparation. The amounts of each immune factor that were ingested and excreted were quantified during balance studies conducted at 2.5 and 5 wk of age. Serum levels of these immune factors were similar in both feeding groups. The urinary excretion of all factors except lysozyme was 7- to 150-fold greater in infants fed human milk than in those fed cow’s milk formula. IgA was the only factor for which the amount of the factor excreted correlated with the amount ingested. Fragments as well as whole molecules of lactoferrin were found in the urine of the infants fed human milk, but the molecular sizes of the excreted proteins exceeded those normally filtered by the kidneys. Therefore, the genesis of the enhanced levels of host defense factors in the urine of infants fed human milk is not clear. Gastrointestinal absorption and subsequent renal excretion as well as enhanced production of immune factors in the infant’s urinary tract are possible explanations.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health