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Human milk glycosaminoglycans: the state of the art and future perspectives

Giovanni Valentino Coppa1*, Orazio Gabrielli1, Enrico Bertino3, Lucia Zampini1, Tiziana Galeazzi1, Lucia Padella1, Lucia Santoro1, Rita Lucia Marchesiello1, Fabio Galeotti2, Francesca Maccari2 and Nicola Volpi2

Author Affiliations

1 Pediatric Division, Department of Clinical Sciences, Polytechnic University of Marche, Ospedali Riuniti, Presidio Salesi, Via Toti 4, Ancona, 60121, Italy

2 Department of Biology, University of Modena & Reggio Emilia, Modena, Italy

3 Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, Department of Pediatrics, Faculty of Medicine and Surgey, University of Turin, Turin, Italy

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Italian Journal of Pediatrics 2013, 39:2  doi:10.1186/1824-7288-39-2

Published: 15 January 2013


Recently, a complete characterization and detailed evaluation of the glycosaminoglycans of human milk were performed. The total glycosaminoglycans content in milk from healthy mothers having delivered term or preterm newborns showed a constant pattern which was essentially composed of two main polysaccharides: chondroitin sulfate (60-70%) and heparin (30-40%). Moreover, considerable variations of glycosaminoglycans concentration were found during the first month of lactation, the highest values being present in colostrum compared to mature milk. Metabolism and potential biological functions of human milk glycosaminoglycans are hypothesized and future studies are encouraged.