The molecular forms of lactoferrin (LF) were examined in stools and urine collected at 2.5 or 5 wk of age from very low birth wt infants fed either a cow’s milk formula or a fortified human milk preparation. LF was not found by Western blotting in excreta from infants fed cow’s milk. In contrast, intact and fragmented forms of IF were detected in stools and concentrated urine of each infant who received human milk. Only intact LF was detected in the fortified human milk preparation, whereas many types of LF fragments were present in the stools and urine. The approximate molecular wt of the most prominent fragments were 44, 38, 34, and 32 kD. However, the stools also displayed lower molecular wt fragments that were not found in urines of those infants. The LF fragments in those excreta were similar in size to those produced in vitro by limited digestion of apo-LF with trypsin. Furthermore, fragments produced by in vitro proteolysis were immuno-reactive in an ELISA for LF. Thus, the fragments of LF in stools of very low birth wt infants fed human milk appeared to be produced by in vivo proteolysis, and the close resemblance between the LF fragments in the stools and urine suggests that the urinary LF fragments originated in the gastrointestinal tract. It remains unclear, however, whether the whole LF molecules that were fragmented were derived solely from ingested LF in human milk or in part from LF produced by the infant in response to human milk feedings.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health