Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry

, Volume 410, Issue 15, pp 3445–3462 | Cite as

Advanced analytical strategies for measuring free bioactive milk sugars: from composition and concentrations to human metabolic response

  • Aifric O’Sullivan
  • Jaime Salcedo
  • Josep Rubert
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Discovery of Bioactive Compounds


Our daily food intake provides the nutrients to maintain health. However, in addition to the nutritional values, food can promote health and be beneficial in preventing diseases. Human milk is a unique food source that contains essential nutrients in the right balance and other bioactive factors that make it the ideal food for all healthy term infants. Human milk oligosaccharides (HMOs) play an important role in health, at several levels: acting as prebiotics promoting the growth of beneficial bacterial strains, preventing the growth of pathogenic bacteria in the intestine, and modulating the immune response against bacterial infections. However, despite their biological relevance and the advances made in the analytical field, very few studies have been carried out to better understand HMOs bioactivity mechanisms or to examine human metabolic response to dietary supplementation. This review describes the state-of-the-art of glycomics strategies, recent analytical methods, and future trends for the identification and discovery of bioactive sugars, the known mechanisms of action, and discusses findings of some recent human intervention trials.


Glycomics Human milk oligosaccharides Mass spectrometry Ion mobility Nutrition 



Josep Rubert thanks the Joint Action Biomarkers in Nutrition and Health, Project Food Biomarkers Alliance (FoodBall) of the Joint Programming Initiative a Healthy Diet for a Healthy Life (JPI HDHL) and the respective national funding organization, Ministry of Education, University and Research (MIUR).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest


Supplementary material

216_2018_913_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (132 kb)
ESM 1 (PDF 132 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Aifric O’Sullivan
    • 1
  • Jaime Salcedo
    • 2
    • 3
  • Josep Rubert
    • 4
  1. 1.UCD Institute for Food and HealthUniversity College DublinDublin 4Ireland
  2. 2.Department of Food Science & TechnologyUniversity of California-DavisDavisUSA
  3. 3.Chemistry Product DevelopmentWaters Technologies Ireland Ltd.DrinaghIreland
  4. 4.Department of Food Quality and Nutrition, Research and Innovation CentreFondazione Edmund Mach (FEM)San Michele all’AdigeItaly

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