We've updated our Privacy Policy to make it clearer how we use your personal data.

We use cookies to provide you with a better experience. You can read our Cookie Policy here.

Advertisement
Milk Lipids Have Co-evolved With Mammal Species' Needs
News

Milk Lipids Have Co-evolved With Mammal Species' Needs

Milk Lipids Have Co-evolved With Mammal Species' Needs
News

Milk Lipids Have Co-evolved With Mammal Species' Needs

Credit: Ksenia Makagonova/Unsplash
Read time:
 

Want a FREE PDF version of This News Story?

Complete the form below and we will email you a PDF version of "Milk Lipids Have Co-evolved With Mammal Species' Needs"

First Name*
Last Name*
Email Address*
Country*
Company Type*
Job Function*
Would you like to receive further email communication from Technology Networks?

Technology Networks Ltd. needs the contact information you provide to us to contact you about our products and services. You may unsubscribe from these communications at any time. For information on how to unsubscribe, as well as our privacy practices and commitment to protecting your privacy, check out our Privacy Policy

Skoltech scientists conducted a study of milk lipids and described the unique features of human breast milk as compared to bovids, pigs, and closely related primates. Their findings could be indicative of co-evolution of milk composition and the specific needs of the developing organism. The study was published in BMC Evolutionary Biology.

Milk is a source of nutrients for growth and development of all mammals. Its composition can adjust to the needs of the baby’s organism depending on the habitat, physiology, and reproductive strategy. The main lipids in milk − triglycerides − are composed of three fatty acids and show high diversity depending on the lactation stage, season, and the mother’s diet. The baby’s body uses fatty acids both as a source of energy and as building blocks for cell membranes, which is particularly important for the brain. Thus, the evolution of milk composition could occur concurrently with the evolution of the brain, and interspecific differences in mammalian milk are of special interest to scientists.

Researchers from Philipp Khaitovich’s lab at Skoltech conducted mass spectrometric analysis of milk lipid samples of humans, two species of macaques, cows, pigs, goats and yaks, and made comparisons for their 472 components. The differences in the lipid composition were then compared to the known evolutionary distances between the species, and the majority of samples displayed a good match, except for pig milk. The analysis of triglycerides showed that saturated and monounsaturated fatty acids prevail in the milk of even-toed mammals, while primate milk is rich in unsaturated fatty acids. Pig milk contains a large amount of polyunsaturated fatty acids, which may be indicative of the adaptation to the short lactation period. Human milk, unlike primate milk, also contains a lot of polyunsaturated fatty acids. As both primates and humans have rather long lactation periods, scientists attribute the differences in milk composition to increased needs of the more complex human brain. Polyunsaturated fatty acids, especially omega-3 and omega-6, mostly come from food and are known to play an important role in the functioning of the nervous system.

“This is the first study that describes lipid composition of milk of seven mammalian species, including humans and primates. Our results show that milk composition differs not only between primates and cows, which was to be expected, but also between humans and monkeys. This means that breast milk is evolving, with its composition reflecting the changing needs of the entire body and the extensively growing brain. As the next step, we want to compare the interspecific differences in the composition of milk and brain,” says Aleksandra Mitina, the first author of the paper.

Reference


Mitina et al. (2020). Lipidome analysis of milk composition in humans, monkeys, bovids, and pigs. BMC Evolutionary Biology. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1186/s12862-020-01637-0

This article has been republished from the following materials. Note: material may have been edited for length and content. For further information, please contact the cited source.

Advertisement