Previously, HMOs have not been studied for their effects on oral bacteria, but as HMOs are increasingly being added to infant formula, the company said it is important to evaluate effects on oral microflora and potential impact on oral health.
“Human milk is known to contain factors that protect against caries, so we were interested to know how HMOs, and especially 2’-FL, affect S. mutans, one of the most studied bacteria related to dental caries,” said Johanna Hirvonen Ph.D., senior scientist, DuPont Nutrition & Biosciences.
“This study was a collaboration between University of Turku, Institute of Dentistry and DuPont Nutrition & Biosciences. We evaluated the ability of S. mutans to grow on 2’-fucosyllactose (2’-FL) in comparison to galacto-oligosaccharides (GOS), lactose, and xylitol. The effects of 2’-FL, GOS, lactose, and xylitol on adhesion properties of S. mutans were also evaluated. While this study was done under in vitro conditions, it showed the differences between the studied carbohydrates, especially in S. mutans growth.”
Krista Salli, scientist at DuPont Nutrition & Biosciences, said, “Though it is known that S. mutans can metabolize many carbon sources, we found that S. mutans was unable to grow on 2’-FL, while it grew well on GOS and lactose. Xylitol, as known before, reduced the growth of S. mutans,” added Krista Salli, M.Sc., Scientist, DuPont Nutrition & Biosciences. “Thus, the data suggests that addition of 2’-FL to infant formula would not support the growth of S. mutans. The results highlight the selectivity of 2’-FL consumption by oral bacteria.”
Adhesion to tooth surfaces is the first requirement for a biofilm—dental plaque–formation, and 2’-FL decreased the adhesive properties of some of the studied S. mutans strains. In infancy, oral microbiota develops, and delays colonization of potentially pathogenic bacteria is vital. DuPont is expanding on this line of research with other oral bacteria and additional HMOs.
New HMO, 3-FL
In addition to the research being conducted on Care4U 2’-FL, DuPont said it recognizes the need to continue to bridge the nutritional gap in infant formula.
The next most abundant HMO in human milk after 2’-FL, and soon to be commercialized by DuPont, is 3-fucosyllactose (3-FL). This HMO is present in human milk of all mothers and is unique in that levels have been reported to increase during lactation, contrary to 2’FL that decreases during lactation. Initial in vitro research demonstrates that in addition to being bifidogenic, this HMO is effective in reducing colon motor contractions and inhibits bacterial adhesion. Further research is needed to confirm clinical benefits.
A scientific expert panel has recently concluded that DuPont’s newest HMO, Care4U 3-FL HMO, is Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) for use in various applications including formulas intended for infants and young children, other foods and beverages consumed by toddlers under three years of age, as well as foods for the general population.
The FDA has been notified of DuPont’s GRAS conclusion.
In October 2019, DuPont submitted a novel food application with the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) to obtain market authorization in the EU for 3-FL. These regulatory developments demonstrate the steady progression of DuPont’s investment and commitment to HMOs.
Recent published research by DuPont has also demonstrated a high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) method is available that allows researchers and formulators to analyze the amount of 2’-FL and 3-FL in a range of food products and perform shelf-life studies in these food applications.
The company said this is a major step forward for manufacturers interested in to developing high quality, efficacious nutritional products for early life nutrition and beyond.
“At DuPont, we’re excited to continue our innovation in Early Life Nutrition with HMOs and probiotics to support healthy growth and development during infancy,” said Ratna Mukherjea, Ph.D., technical fellow and global research and development leader, Human Milk Oligosaccharides, DuPont Nutrition & Biosciences.
“Further, the health benefits of HMOs and probiotics can be extended beyond infant nutrition to that of adult nutrition and dietary supplements.”