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Human milk oligosaccharides and rotavirus infection


Human milk contains a range of oligosaccharides, which have an important role for development of the infant’s microbiota and immunity.

The study performed by Li et al (2014) investigated the role of human milk oligosaccharides (HMO) in rotavirus infection in experimental model animals, baby piglets.

The newborn piglets were divided in three groups and fed either on formula (FF), formula supplemented with HMO (FF + HMO) or formula supplemented with prebiotics (FF + PRE). The oligosaccharide components of both supplements are listed in the table below. 


HMO supplement

PRE supplement

40% 2′-fucosyllactose

90% galactooligosaccharides 

35% lacto-N-neotetraose

10% fructooligosaccharides (inulin)

10% 6'-sialyllactose*


5% 3'-sialyllactose*  
10% free sialic acid  

Table 1: Components of HMO and PRE supplements. Carbosynth products used in this study are marked with *.


The model animals were infected with rotavirus and the three experimental groups were compared for rotavirus infection-associated symptoms. The animals feeding on the HMO and PRE supplemented diet presented with shorter duration of infection-induced diarrhea but were unable to prevent it. Moreover, the oligosaccharide supplements influenced gut intraluminal environment, microbiota and amplified immune response to rotavirus infection.

For more details, read the original paper published in the ISME Journal: Li et al., 2014.


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