Endocannabinoid Metabolome Characterization of Milk from Guatemalan Women Living in the Western Highlands

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BACKGROUND: Recognized as the gold-standard ideal fare, human milk has a unique composition that meets infants' needs throughout development. Endocannabinoids and endocannabinoid-like compounds [endocannabinoid metabolome (ECM)] are endogenous lipid mediators derived from long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids. Based on animal models, it has been proposed that endocannabinoid arachidonoyl glycerol (AG) plays a role in establishing the suckling response during lactation. In addition, endocannabinoid ethanolamides have been shown to stimulate food intake. The mechanisms of action and the role of the ECM in human milk are not fully understood. OBJECTIVES: The present study aimed to characterize and quantify the ECM in human milk samples from an underserved population in Guatemala. METHODS: Human milk samples were collected from lactating women ( = 26) for ECM characterization and quantification. Samples were taken at 3 different time points between 4 and 6 mo of lactation during maternal fasting. Human milk samples were analyzed by liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry. Identified members of the ECM were: arachidonoyl ethanolamide, palmitoyl ethanolamide (PEA), oleoyl ethanolamide, docosahexaenoyl ethanolamide, eicoapentaenoyl ethanolamide, eicosenoyl ethanolamide, AG, palmitoyl glycerol, oleoyl glycerol, docosahexaenoyl glycerol, eicosapentaenoyl glycerol, eicosenoyl glycerol, arachidonic acid (ARA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). RESULTS: Overall, concentrations in the ethanolamide group were lower than the glycerols. A time effect was observed for ARA, DHA, EPA, and PEA across the 3 time points ( ≤ 0.05). CONCLUSIONS: Our study identified the ECM in mature human milk and provides the first report for a population with health disparities within a developing country. The few studies available have been conducted in developed countries. Hypotheses for future studies can be developed based on this study's data to help elucidate specific roles for members of the ECM and how this biological system modulates infant health and development.

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Current developments in nutrition

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