Human milk oligosaccharides (HMOs) are complex, unconjugated glycans, highly abundant in human milk, but also found in maternal urine during pregnancy.
Recently, we could detect HMOs directly in maternal serum already in early pregnancy, long before birth and the start of lactation. Most intriguingly, we also found HMOs in cord blood, suggesting they can pass over the placental barrier and reach the fetal circulation.
Our main research goals are centered around the following fundamental questions: What are ‘normal’ maternal concentrations and composition of HMOs over the course of pregnancy? What are normal HMOs concentrations and composition in the feto-placental compartment? How is HMO biosynthesis is regulated? How are HMOs transported across the placenta? Which environmental or life-style factors (diet, physical activity, body composition, metabolic status) influence composition and concentration of maternal and fetal HMOs?
Defining these physiologic profiles of HMOs will help elucidate their specific roles in feto-maternal health and disease.
Funded by Marie Curie International Incoming Fellowship