Immunology & Immunological Disorders Poster Session



Materials & Methods


Discussion & Conclusion



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Activation and Deposition of Human Breast-milk Complement C3 Opsonins on a Serum Sensitive Bacteria

Contact Person: Michael O. Ogundele (mogundel@yahoo.com)

Discussion and Conclusion

This study shows that the HBM C might possess a physiological function, capable of being activated by pathogenic organisms in the mammary gland or along the infant´s intestinal tract. It is also capable of depositing activated fragments, including C3 opsonins on the invading micro-organisms, leading to their phagocytosis and killing by milk cells, or direct killing by deposition of terminal C membrane attack complexes (C5b-9). This would be very vital in protecting against the constant threat of environmental pathogens invading the body at the mucosal interfaces.

Despite the conviction of some researchers, that the C system in mucosal secretions play insignificant roles because of the inflammatory processes they evoke (6), it might still represent a major anti-microbial agent on mucosal surfaces. A recent series of studies have also demonstrated in-vitro C-mediated bacteriolytic activities against a serum-sensitive E. coli, S. aureus and S epidermidis in human breast-milk (HBM). Non-immune mechanisms of C activation have been demonstrated in the mucosal secretions of the lachrymal gland, suggesting that the inhibition of classical pathways of C activation at these mucosal sites could still be circumvented (7). Furthermore, the presence of a wide variety of anti-inflammatory inhibitory components of HBM, would ensure that other possible non-inflammatory functions of the C system such as immuno-modulation, are carried on, without any damage to the mucosal tissues (8).

In the HBM, apart from the C and free fatty acids (FFA), most of the other anti-microbial components of HBM are bacteriostatic. Since bactericidal FFA are also present in the artificial formula feeds, and it does not seem to contribute to the protection of the formula-fed infants (9), the C system should therefore be regarded as a potentially source of significant contribution to the increased resistance of breast-fed infants against infection. Studies with cow´s milk have also shown that activated C system could be activated and their fragments can be deposited on the bacteria, even in the absence of inflammation (10).

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Ogundele, M.O.; (1998). Activation and Deposition of Human Breast-milk Complement C3 Opsonins on a Serum Sensitive Bacteria. Presented at INABIS '98 - 5th Internet World Congress on Biomedical Sciences at McMaster University, Canada, Dec 7-16th. Available at URL http://www.mcmaster.ca/inabis98/immunology/ogundele0177/index.html
© 1998 Author(s) Hold Copyright