Proceedings of the Nutrition Society

3rd International Immunonutrition Workshop

Session 7: Prebiotics and probiotics usefulness against pathologies

Potential role of the intestinal microbiota of the mother in neonatal immune education*

21–24 October 2009, The 3rd International Immunonutrition Workshop, Platja D'Aro, Girona, Spain.

Anne Donnet-Hughesa1, Pablo F. Pereza2 p1, Joël Doréa2, Marion Leclerca2, Florence Leveneza2, Jalil Benyacouba1, Patrick Serranta1, Iris Segura-Roggeroa1 and Eduardo J. Schiffrina3 c1

a1 Nutrition and Health Department, Nestlé Research Centre, Nestec Ltd, PO Box 44, 1000 Lausanne 26, Switzerland

a2 INRA, CR de Jouy-en-Josas, 78352 Jouy en Josas, France

a3 Nestlé Nutrition, Nestec Ltd, Avenue Reller 22, CH-1800 Vevey, Switzerland


Mucosal dendritic cells are at the heart of decision-making processes that dictate immune reactivity to intestinal microbes. They ensure tolerance to commensal bacteria and a vigorous immune response to pathogens. It has recently been demonstrated that the former involves a limited migration of bacterially loaded dendritic cells from the Peyer's patches to the mesenteric lymph nodes. During lactation, cells from gut-associated lymphoid tissue travel to the breast via the lymphatics and peripheral blood. Here, we show that human peripheral blood mononuclear cells and breast milk cells contain bacteria and their genetic material during lactation. Furthermore, we show an increased bacterial translocation from the mouse gut during pregnancy and lactation and the presence of bacterially loaded dendritic cells in lactating breast tissue. Our observations show bacterial translocation as a unique physiological event, which is increased during pregnancy and lactation. They suggest endogenous transport of intestinally derived bacterial components within dendritic cells destined for the lactating mammary gland. They also suggest neonatal immune imprinting by milk cells containing commensal-associated molecular patterns.


c1 Corresponding author: Eduardo J. Schiffrin, fax +41 21 924 7894, email

p1 Present address: CIDCA-Cátedra de Microbiología. Facultad de Ciencias Exactas – UNLP, 47 y 116, La Plata (1900), Argentina.


* This article represents the presentation given at the 3rd International Immunonutrition Workshop; the original article was previously published elsewhere(42).