Immunoglobulin A and nutrients in milk from great apes throughout lactation
Differences in macronutrients between human and ape milks appear relatively small, but variation in other components such as immunoglobulins (Ig) may be greater. This study characterized the macronutrient and secretory (sIgA) profiles in milk from gorillas and orangutans throughout lactation. Fifty‐three milk samples from four gorillas and three orangutans were collected throughout 48 and 22 months postpartum (MPP), respectively. Samples were grouped in five stages of lactation (0 to 6 months, more than 6 months to 12 months, more than 12 months to 18 months, more than 18 months to 36 months, and more than 36 months to 48 months). Data were analyzed as a complete randomized design. Concentration of sIgA did not change due to species or its interaction with MPP. Crude protein, regardless of MPP, was greater for gorillas compared with orangutans (1.27 vs. 0.85%). Fat, sugar, and gross energy were affected by the interaction of species × MPP. For gorilla milk, concentrations of sIgA were 43 mg/L at 6 MPP increasing to 79 mg/L at 48 MPP. Protein was highest at 48 MPP. Sugar was lowest at 48 MPP. Values for fat and gross energy were the highest 36 MPP. For orangutan milk, concentrations of sIgA were highest at 6 MPP. Sugar decreased with MPP. Protein, dry matter, or fat were unaffected by MPP. Gross energy content was steady during the first 18 MPP but it tended to decrease by 36 MPP. The results indicate that macronutrients are similar between human, published data, and great ape milk, though gorilla milk has higher protein and human milk higher fat (published data). Concentrations of sIgA in ape milk were about 10‐fold lower than human values from the literature. Differences between human and ape milk may lie more in bioactive/immune molecules than nutrients. RESEARCH HIGHLIGHTS Milk macronutrients from great apes differed throughout lactation. Milk macronutrients but not IgA from non‐human great apes and humans were quite similar. Milk protein was greater in Gorilla compared with Orangutan.
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