Methods: Healthy pregnant woman were enrolled with written informed consent. Subjects (84 individuals) were randomly assigned to the FOS (Meioligo-P, obtained from Meiji Food Materia Company Limited) (FOS, n 41) or sucrose (placebo, n43) intake groups. Trial compound (4 g) was taken after breakfast and supper daily from 26 weeks of gestation to 1 month after delivery. Colostrum samples were collected during hospitalization after childbirth and concentration of IL-27 was measured by ELISA. Fecal samples at 26 and 36 weeks of gestation were collected at home or the hospital by the subjects and the gut microbiota were quantified by quantitative real-time PCR.
Results: After excluding subjects with insufficient test compound intake, 29 in placebo and 34 in FOS groups were analyzed. There were no differences of the characteristics between 2 groups. The concentrations of IL-27 in colostrum samples were significantly higher in the FOS group (range: <0.156–46.6 ng/ml; median: 2.4 ng/ml) than in the placebo group (range: <0.156–95.8 ng/ml; median: 0.2 ng/ml) (P<0.05). Fecal numbers of Bifidobacterium were significantly increased in the FOS group but not the in the placebo group and were significantly higher in the FOS group (range: 8.9–11.0 log10 cfu/g; median: 10.4 log10 cfu/g) than in the placebo group (range: 8.8–10.72 log10 cfu/g; median: 10.1 log10 cfu/g) after the intervention (P<0.05). The concentrations of IL-27 in colostrum showed weak correlation to the Bifidobacteriumnumbers of 36 weeks of gestation.
Conclusions: Our data suggest that mother's intake of prebiotics increases IL-27 expression in breast milk by modulating gut microbiota.