Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology

, Volume 103, Issue 6, pp 2745–2758 | Cite as

Bovine colostrum-driven modulation of intestinal epithelial cells for increased commensal colonisation

  • Sinead T. Morrin
  • Jonathan A. Lane
  • Mariarosaria Marotta
  • Lars Bode
  • Stephen D. Carrington
  • Jane A. Irwin
  • Rita M. HickeyEmail author
Applied microbial and cell physiology


Nutritional intake may influence the intestinal epithelial glycome and in turn the available attachment sites for bacteria. In this study, we tested the hypothesis that bovine colostrum may influence the intestinal cell surface and in turn the attachment of commensal organisms. Human HT-29 intestinal cells were exposed to a bovine colostrum fraction (BCF) rich in free oligosaccharides. The adherence of several commensal bacteria, comprising mainly bifidobacteria, to the intestinal cells was significantly enhanced (up to 52-fold) for all strains tested which spanned species that are found across the human lifespan. Importantly, the changes to the HT-29 cell surface did not support enhanced adhesion of the enteric pathogens tested. The gene expression profile of the HT-29 cells following treatment with the BCF was evaluated by microarray analysis. Many so called “glyco-genes” (glycosyltransferases and genes involved in the complex biosynthetic pathways of glycans) were found to be differentially regulated suggesting modulation of the enzymatic addition of sugars to glycoconjugate proteins. The microarray data was further validated by means of real-time PCR. The current findings provide an insight into how commensal microorganisms colonise the human gut and highlight the potential of colostrum and milk components as functional ingredients that can potentially increase commensal numbers in individuals with lower counts of health-promoting bacteria.


Glycosylation Adherence Bifidobacteria Colostrum Modulation Transcriptomics 



The authors would like to thank Dr. John O’ Callaghan for his technical assistance.

Author contributions

The authors’ contributions are as follows: L. B., S. D. C. and R. M. H. conceptualised and designed the study; S. T. M. and J. A. L. conducted the experiments and acquired the data; S. T. M. analysed and interpreted the data; S. T. M. wrote the first draft of the manuscript; S. D. C., L. B., J. A. I., M. M., J. A. L., R. M. H. and S. T. M. critically revised the manuscript and are primarily responsible for the final content.


Sinead T. Morrin is in receipt of a Teagasc Walsh Fellowship.

Compliance with ethical standards

This article does not contain any studies with human participants performed by any of the authors.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

253_2019_9642_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (409 kb)
ESM 1 (PDF 408 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Teagasc Food Research CentreCorkIreland
  2. 2.Veterinary Sciences Centre, School of Veterinary MedicineUniversity College DublinDublin 4Ireland
  3. 3.Department of Pediatrics and Larsson-Rosenquist Foundation Mother-Milk-Infant Center of Research ExcellenceUniversity of CaliforniaLa JollaUSA

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