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Dietary insulin as an immunogen and tolerogen.
We have shown that exposure to bovine insulin (BI) in cow's milk (CM) formula induces an insulin-specific immune response in infants. Here we studied the role of human insulin (HI) in breast milk as a modulator of the immune response to insulin. In a group of 128 children participating in the TRIGR pilot study, maternal breast milk samples were collected 3-7 days and/or 3 months after delivery. After exclusive breast-feeding, the children received either CM formula or casein hydrolysate during the first 6-8 months of life. Insulin concentration in breast milk and immunoglobulin G (IgG) antibodies to BI in plasma samples were measured by EIA. The levels of insulin in breast milk samples were higher in mothers affected by type 1 diabetes than in non-diabetic mothers (p = 0.007 and p < 0.001). The concentration of insulin in breast milk correlated inversely with the plasma levels of IgG antibodies to BI at 6 months of age in children who received CM formula (r = -0.39, p = 0.013), and at 12 months of age in all children (r = -0.25, p = 0.029). The levels of breast milk insulin were higher in the mothers of nine children who developed beta-cell autoimmunity when compared with autoantibody-negative children (p = 0.030); this holds true also when only children of diabetic mothers were included (p = 0.045). BI in CM induces higher levels of IgG to insulin in infants than does HI in breast-fed children. Instead, HI in breast milk seems to be tolerogenic and may downregulate the IgG response to dietary BI. However, our results in infants who developed beta-cell autoimmunity suggest that in this subgroup of children breast milk insulin does not promote tolerance.
Department of Viral Diseases and Immunology, Laboratory for Immunology, National Public Health Institute, Helsinki, Finland. firstname.lastname@example.org, , , , , , ,
Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1
Pub Type(s)Journal Article
Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't