Role of the human breast milk-associated microbiota on the newborns' immune system: A mini review

Marco Toscano, Roberta De Grandi, Enzo Grossi, Lorenzo Drago

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The human milk is fundamental for a correct development of newborns, as it is a source not only of vitamins and nutrients, but also of commensal bacteria. The microbiota associated to the human breast milk contributes to create the "initial" intestinal microbiota of infants, having also a pivotal role in modulating and influencing the newborns' immune system. Indeed, the transient gut microbiota is responsible for the initial change from an intrauterine Th2 prevailing response to a Th1/Th2 balanced one. Bacteria located in both colostrum and mature milk can stimulate the anti-inflammatory response, by stimulating the production of specific cytokines, reducing the risk of developing a broad range of inflammatory diseases and preventing the expression of immune-mediated pathologies, such as asthma and atopic dermatitis. The aim of the present Mini Review is to elucidate the specific immunologic role of the human milk-associated microbiota and its impact on the newborn's health and life, highlighting the importance to properly study the biological interactions in a bacterial population and between the microbiota and the host. The Auto Contractive Map, for instance, is a promising analytical methodology based on artificial neural network that can elucidate the specific role of bacteria contained in the breast milk in modulating the infants' immunological response.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2100
JournalFrontiers in Microbiology
Issue numberOCT
Publication statusPublished - Oct 25 2017


  • AutoCM
  • Colostrum
  • Human milk
  • Immunomodulation
  • Milk microbiota
  • Newborn's immune system

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Microbiology (medical)


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