Interleukin 7 from maternal milk crosses the intestinal barrier and modulates T-cell development in offspring

Richard Aspinall, Andrew M. Prentice, Pa Tamba Ngom

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

18 Citations (Scopus)
2 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Background: Breastfeeding protects against illnesses and death in hazardous environments, an effect partly mediated by improved immune function. One hypothesis suggests that factors within milk supplement the inadequate immune response of the offspring, but this has not been able to account for a series of observations showing that factors within maternally derived milk may supplement the development of the immune system through a direct effect on the primary lymphoid organs. In a previous human study we reported evidence suggesting a link between IL-7 in breast milk and the thymic output of infants. Here we report evidence in mice of direct action of maternally-derived IL-7 on T cell development in the offspring. Methods and Findings: We have used recombinant IL-7 labelled with a fluorescent dye to trace the movement in live mice of IL-7 from the stomach across the gut and into the lymphoid tissues. To validate the functional ability of maternally derived IL-7 we cross fostered IL-7 knock-out mice onto normal wild type mothers. Subsets of thymocytes and populations of peripheral T cells were significantly higher than those found in knock-out mice receiving milk from IL-7 knock-out mothers. Conclusions/Significance: Our study provides direct evidence that interleukin 7, a factor which is critical in the development of T lymphocytes, when maternally derived can transfer across the intestine of the offspring, increase T cell production in the thymus and support the survival of T cells in the peripheral secondary lymphoid tissue.

Original languageEnglish
Article number0020812
JournalPLoS ONE
Volume6
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jun 2011
Externally publishedYes

Fingerprint

interleukin-7
maternal milk
Interleukin-7
T-cells
Milk
T-lymphocytes
Mothers
T-Lymphocytes
Lymphoid Tissue
Knockout Mice
mice
milk
Tissue
Thymus
Aptitude
Immune system
Human Milk
Thymocytes
thymocytes
Breast Feeding

Bibliographical note

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)

Cite this

Interleukin 7 from maternal milk crosses the intestinal barrier and modulates T-cell development in offspring. / Aspinall, Richard; Prentice, Andrew M.; Ngom, Pa Tamba.

In: PLoS ONE, Vol. 6, No. 6, 0020812, 30.06.2011.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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