Evolve BioSystems, Inc. announced new data published this week in Journal of Functional Foods, showing for the first time that term, breastfed infants fed activated Bifidobacterium longum subsp. infantisEVC001 (B. infantis EVC001) experience improved metabolism of protein-bound glycans from human milk, compared to matched controls. Not only do these new data provide greater mechanistic understanding of how B. infantis selectively utilizes the glycans from human milk as growth substrate but may also provide a basis for facilitating B. infantis colonization in formula fed infants via utilization of bovine derived N-glycans.
Although EndoBI-1, an enzyme unique to B. infantis, has previously been shown to release N-glycans from native bovine milk glycoproteins in vitro, this is the first study to clinically demonstrate this activity in breastfed infants fed B. infantis EVC001. These findings indicate that N-glycans from milk glycoproteins, whether derived from human or bovine sources, may contribute to colonization of B. infantis EVC001 in the infant gut.
B. infantis is an infant-adapted gut bacterium uniquely capable of dominating the infant gut during exclusive breastfeeding, mainly through the well documented utilization of free human milk oligosaccharides (HMO). This key infant gut symbiont has been shown to create a protective environment in the infant gut during the early months of life via pathogen suppression, resulting in reduced virulence factors, a decreased abundance of antibiotic resistance genes, and reductions in colonic mucin degradation (1-4). These new data show that B. infantis is also capable of selectively releasing protein bound N-glycans from human milk glycoproteins in vivo. N-glycans from lactoferrin, in particular, are known to contribute to the antimicrobial activity of this protein and other glycans released by this enzyme may play an additional role in supporting the growth of B. infantis EVC001 in vivo.
“We are thrilled to see that the earlier in vitro work on this unique enzymatic activity of B. infantis is now demonstrated clinically here in breastfed infants,” says Dr. Steven Frese, Director of Microbiology at Evolve BioSystems and corresponding author of the study. “The important role and mechanism of this key infant gut bacterium in early life are becoming increasingly clear, but there is published evidence suggesting that the prevalence of B. infantisin US-born infants has been rapidly declining over the past 100 years (5). Therefore, these data are encouraging as we continue to develop effective methods of addressing infant gut dysbiosis. This work was really made possible because of an international collaboration with scientists at Çanakkale Onsekiz Mart University in Turkey, who have extensively characterized this enzyme.”