Infant formula supplemented with MFGM led to decreased metabolic gaps between infants fed with formula vs. human milk, according to a research paper published in Molecular Nutrition and Food Research (DOI: https://doi.org/10.1002/mnfr.202000603).
Having conducted a double-blind and randomised clinical trial in China to assess how bovine MFGM supplemented formula affected the health of infants aged 14 days to 4 months old, the researchers sought to understand further how MFGM impacted infants' metabolism and microbiota. For the trial, infants were breastfed (BF), given standard formula (SF) or a bovine MFGM supplemented formula. Deeming the formula supplemented with MFGM safe, in the current research paper, researchers analysed infants’ serum and faecal samples.
The infant's metabolite 'signatures' differed amongst SF and BF infants. Although total non-essential amino acids (NEAA) were relatively similar between both groups, total essential amino acids (EAA) were much higher in the SF group, which also showed higher levels of nitrogenous metabolic products, creatine and urea. On the other hand, BF infants had higher creatinine levels (23.6 μM vs 21.0 μM [mean], BF vs SF). When comparing the effects of MFGM supplementation on the serum metabolome, researchers found that BF infants metabolome were very different from the SF group and the MFGM group, though the SF and MFGM groups were similar. They noted, "Several metabolites in the MFGM group were lower than in the SF group and trended towards the levels observed in the BF group which included mannose, several amino acids (alanine, phenylalanine, proline, threonine, isoleucine, leucine, tyrosine, valine, lysine, glycine, histidine, and asparagine), amino acid catabolism by-products (3-hydroxyisobutyrate, 2-hydroxybutyrate), and lactate. Except for proline and glycine, these metabolites were also lower in BF infants than in the SF group. The levels of ketone body metabolites (acetone, 3-HB), dimethylamine, methanol, 1,2-PD, and glycerol were higher in the MFGM group relative to the SF group. These metabolites were observed to be higher in BF infants compared to SF infants as well.” They added, “The changing patterns of metabolite abundance relative to controls were consistent between the MFGM and BF groups. Speciﬁcally, MFGM supplementation decreased circulating amino acids and associated catabolism products and increased ketone body metabolites, a characteristic metabolic phenotype of BF infants.”
Regarding the faecal microbiota, results showed MFGM supplementation did not cause differences in faecal bacterial taxa abundance; however, " An unknown species in the genus Dorea (Firmicutes phylum; Clostridia class) was signiﬁcantly increased in the MFGM group at 12 months of age compared to controls." When analysing microbiota diversity affected by diet, results showed that all the groups had a consistent increase in microbial richness, noting comparable results between the BF and MFGM groups.
Researchers concluded, “Effects of MFGM supplementation were not significant enough to narrow the compositional differences in the faecal microbiota between BF and formula-fed infants, yet, was effective to support the core microbiota partly by controlling the gradual increase in microbial diversity and its metabolic activities.”