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Recent Publication

Glycerol Monolaurate Contributes to the Antimicrobial and Antiinflammatory Activity of Human Milk


Human milk has antimicrobial compounds and immunomodulatory activities. We investigated glycerol monolaurate (GML) in human milk versus bovine milk and infant formula for antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory activities. Human milk contained approximately 3000 µg/ml of GML, compared to 150 μg/ml in bovine milk and none in infant formula. For bacteria tested (Staphylococcus aureus, Bacillus subtilis, Clostridium perfringens, Escherichia coli), except Enterococcus faecalis, human milk was more antimicrobial than bovine milk and formula. The Enterococcus faecalis strain, which was not inhibited, produced reutericyclin, which is an analogue of GML and functions as a growth stimulant in bacteria that produce it. Removal of GML and other lipophilic molecules from human milk by ethanol extraction resulted in a loss of antibacterial activity, which was restored by re-addition of GML. GML addition caused bovine milk to become antimicrobial. Human milk but not bovine milk or formula inhibited superantigen and bacterial-induced IL-8 production by model human epithelial cells. GML may contribute beneficially to human milk compared to bovine milk or infant formula.


  • Schlievert PM, Kilgore SH, Seo KS, Leung DYM