Breast Milk Hormones and Their Protective Effect on Obesity
BACKGROUND Breastfeeding may protect children from developing metabolic syndrome and other diseases later in life. We investigated novel proteins in human breast milk that might play a role in this process. METHODS We used ELISA to measure adiponectin, adipocyte and epidermal fatty acid binding proteins (AFABP, EFABP), and leptin concentrations in human breast milk obtained from 59 mothers 48 h after initiation of lactation. Using a questionnaire and medical records, we collected information about the mothers and newborns. RESULTS Mean (SE) adiponectin concentrations in breast milk were 13.7 (0.8), range 3.9-30.4 microg/L; AFABP concentrations 26.7 (4.4), range 1.2-137.0 microg/L; EFABP concentrations 18.1 (1.4), range 0.8-47.0 microg/L; and leptin concentrations 0.50 (0.05), range 0-1.37 microg/L. We found a significant correlation between AFABP and EFABP concentrations (r = 0.593, P <0.0001). Maternal EFABP concentrations were significantly higher in mothers who delivered boys than in those who delivered girls [21.7 (2.3) vs 15.4 (1.7) microg/L, P = 0.028] and correlated with newborn birth weight (r = 0.266, P = 0.045). Maternal leptin correlated with body weight before pregnancy (r = 0.272, P = 0.043) and at delivery (r = 0.370, P = 0.005), body mass index before pregnancy (r = 0.397, P = 0.003) and at delivery (r = 0.498, P <0.0001), body weight gain during pregnancy (r = 0.267, P = 0.047), and newborn gestational age (r = 0.266, P = 0.048). Leptin was significantly lower in mothers who delivered preterm vs term babies [0.30 (0.09) vs 0.60 (0.05) ug/L, P = 0.026]. CONCLUSIONS Concentrations of adiponectin, AFABP, and EFABP in human breast milk are related to nutritional variables of mothers and newborns and thus may play a role in the protective effects of breastfeeding.