Morinaga research reveals key immunity-boosting metabolite produced from infant gut

By Guan Yu Lim

- Last updated on GMT

Morinaga research reveals key immunity-boosting metabolite produced from infant gut ©Getty Images
Morinaga research reveals key immunity-boosting metabolite produced from infant gut ©Getty Images

Related tags Japan morinaga milk industry Gut microbiota

Research from Morinaga Milk Industry has found that the infant-type human-residential bifidobacteria (HRB) could produce a key metabolite, the immunity-boosting indole-3-lactic acid (ILA), moving one step closer to understanding its benefits on infant health.

This mean that, “Strains of infant-type HRB could be better probiotic candidates for infant use​,” said Dr Chyn Boon Wong, research associate at Morinaga Milk Industry told NutraIngredients-Asia.

The firm said infant-type HRB was compatible with breast milk, because it is capable of utilising human milk oligosaccharides (HMOs), and was highly tolerant to lysozyme, a natural antibacterial factor present in the human body.

Over the last two decades, many attempts have been made to mimic the gut microbiota of breast-fed infants in formula fed infants, which have been studied as an underlying driver in various disease development,”​ Wong said.

She observed: “In recent years, in the APAC region, there has been a remarkable rise in the desire of parents to feed their babies foods containing functional ingredients such as probiotics and prebiotics as a means to promote healthy growth and development of the babies​.”

Research findings

Researchers had conducted a study​ to investigate the functional role of infant-type HRB in infant health, and in doing so, examine the metabolites produced by different strains of bifidobacterial species.

They reported that strains of infant-type HRB, including B. longum ​BB536, B. breve​ M-16V and B. infantis ​M-63, produced higher levels of ILA than other species.

ILA is a tryptophan metabolite involved in the immune development of infants, although its biological meaning is unclear.

Wong explained: “It is believed that this metabolite specifically produced by infant-type HRB could be involved in the immune development in infants, for which ILA has been reportedly involving in inducing immunoregulatory T cells and suppressing inflammatory T cells​.”


Wong said the new discovery on the metabolite of human bifidobacteria was a breakthrough in the field and would add value to infant nutrition products.

With the rising demand for healthy baby food, the infant nutrition market is expected to growing fast in the APAC region,” ​she added.

The firm will continue further research on the functional roles of HRB in infant health to better understand why and how this group of bifidobacterial species contribute to human infant growth and health development.

Morinaga Milk Industry currently carries four main HRB probiotic strains (BB536, M-16V, M-63 and B-3) that are effective at helping the human host achieve optimal health and are suitable for human use, especially in infants.

The paper concluded: “Strains of bifidobacterial species commonly isolated from the intestines of human infants, such as Bifidobacterium longum subsp. longum, Bifidobacterium longum subsp. infantis, Bifidobacterium breve, and Bifidobacterium bifidum, produced higher levels of ILA than did strains of other species. These results imply that infant-type bifidobacteria might play a specific role in host–microbial cross-talk by producing ILA in human infants.”


Source: Microorganisms

“Production of Indole-3-Lactic Acid by Bifidobacterium Strains Isolated fromHuman Infants”

Authors: Takuma Sakurai, et al​.

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