Adiponectin is present in human milk and is associated with maternal factors

Lisa J Martin, Jessica G Woo, Sheela R Geraghty, Mekibib Altaye, Barbara S Davidson, Walter Banach, Lawrence M Dolan, Guillermo M Ruiz-Palacios and Ardythe L Morrow

American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol. 83, No. 5, 1106-1111, May 2006


Background: Previous studies have shown that human milk has a role in the gastrointestinal, neural, and immune development of neonates. If present in milk, adiponectin would be a promising candidate for influencing infant development, given its metabolic functions.

Objectives: Our objectives were to determine whether adiponectin is present in human milk and to characterize maternal factors associated with potential variation in milk adiponectin concentrations.

Design: We quantified adiponectin concentrations in human milk samples from donors to the Cincinnati Children’s Research Human Milk Bank and randomly selected participants in a cohort study in Mexico City funded by the National Institutes of Health. Using cross-sectional and longitudinal data, we examined milk adiponectin concentrations in relation to lactation duration, maternal body mass index (BMI; in kg/m2), and ethnicity.

Results: Adiponectin was detected in human skim milk (range: 4.2–87.9 ng/mL). In cross-sectional and longitudinal analyses, duration of lactation was negatively associated with milk adiponectin concentrations (ß = –0.059 ± 0.024 and –0.059 ± 0.007, respectively; P < 0.02 for both). Maternal postpregnancy BMI was positively associated with milk adiponectin concentrations (ß = 0.08 ± 0.02, P < 0.0001; longitudinal analysis). Mexican mothers had lower median milk adiponectin concentrations at 1 mo than did the non-Hispanic white subjects from Cincinnati (11.5 and 19.8 ng/mL; P = 0.003).

Conclusions: Adiponectin is present in human milk and its concentrations are associated with duration of lactation, maternal adiposity, and ethnicity. Given the importance of adiponectin in inflammation, insulin sensitivity, and fatty acid metabolism, future studies should examine milk adiponectin’s role in infant metabolic development.

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