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Fucosylated but not sialylated milk oligosaccharides diminish colon motor contractions

Author: Bienenstock J, Buck R, Linke H, Forsythe P, Stanisz A and Kunze W. | Journal: PLoS One

Volume: 8

Issue: 10



Human milk oligosaccharides (HMO) are being studied by different groups exploring a broad range of potential beneficial effects to the breastfed infant. Many of these effects have been attributed to a growth promotion effect on certain gut organisms such as bifidobacteria. Additionally, evidence indicates that HMO are able to directly promote positive changes in gut epithelium and immune responses under certain conditions.

Objective and methods:

This study utilizes a standardized ex vivo murine colon preparation to examine the effects of sialylated, fucosylated and other HMO on gut motor contractions.


Only the fucosylated molecules, 2’FL and 3’FL, decreased contractility in a concentration dependent fashion. On the basis of IC50 determinations 3’FL was greater than 2 times more effective than 2’FL. The HMO 3’SL and 6’SL, lacto-N-neotetraose (LNnT), and galactooligosaccharides (GOS) elicited no effects. Lactose was used as a negative control. Fucosylation seems to underlie this functional regulation of gut contractility by oligosaccharides, and L-fucose, while it was also capable of reducing contractility, was substantially less effective than 3’FL and 2’FL.


These results suggest that specific HMO are unlikely to be having these effects via bifidogenesis, but though direct action on neuronally dependent gut migrating motor complexes is likely and fucosylation is important in providing this function, we cannot conclusively shown that this is not indirectly mediated. Furthermore, they support the possibility that fucosylated sugars and fucose might be useful as therapeutic or preventative adjuncts in disorders of gut motility, and possibly also have beneficial central nervous system effects.

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