Maternal and pregnancy-related factors affecting human milk cytokines among Peruvian mothers bearing low-birth-weight neonates

Mara Zambruni, Alex Villalobos, Anoma Somasunderam, Sarah Westergaard, Maitreyee Nigalye, Christie G. Turin, Jaime Zegarra, Sicilia Bellomo, Erik Mercado, Theresa J. Ochoa, Netanya S. Utay

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Several cytokines have been detected in human milk but their relative concentrations differ among women and vary over time in the same person. The drivers of such differences have been only partially identified, while the effect of luminal cytokines in the fine-regulation of the intestinal immune system is increasingly appreciated. The aim of this study was to investigate the associations between obstetrical complications and human milk cytokine profiles in a cohort of Peruvian women giving birth to Low Birth Weight (LBW) infants. Colostrum and mature human milk samples were collected from 301 Peruvian women bearing LBW infants. The concentration of twenty-three cytokines was measured using the Luminex platform. Ninety-nine percent of women had at least one identified obstetrical complication leading to intra-uterine growth restriction and/or preterm birth. Median weight at birth was 1,420 g; median gestational age 31 weeks. A core of 12 cytokines, mainly involved in innate immunity and epithelial cell integrity, was detectable in most samples. Maternal age, maternal infection, hypertensive disorders, preterm labor, and premature rupture of membranes were associated with specific cytokine profiles both in colostrum and mature human milk. Mothers of Very LBW (VLBW) neonates had significantly higher concentrations of chemokines and growth factor cytokines both in their colostrum and mature milk compared with mothers of larger neonates. Thus, maternal conditions affecting pregnancy duration and in utero growth are also associated with specific human milk cytokine signatures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)20-26
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Reproductive Immunology
StatePublished - Apr 1 2017


  • Human milk cytokines
  • Low-birth weight infants
  • Pregnancy complications

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology
  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


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