Human Milk MicroRNAs in the Development of Infant’s Immune System: A Systematic Review

Norafiza Zainuddin, Siti Nur Syahirah Zulkifli, Hamizah Ismail


Exclusive breastfeeding practice is relatively low among children below six months of age, despite the countless advantages provided by human milk. Improving and enhancing the immune system of the infants are important as their immune system is not completely developed yet in the early life. Breast milk or human milk is relatively abundant with bioactive components and nutrients and offers a complete source of food to the infants. The bioactive components of human milk are believed to provide infants with great protection. Currently, researchers discover the roles of microRNAs in human milk of humans towards proper immune system development of the infants. This systematic review aims to access and collect data on the diverse immune-related microRNAs in the human milk and their immunoregulatory functions. To obtain related articles pertaining to the human milk microRNAs, a systematic search was conducted by using three relevant databases namely Science Direct, Scopus and PubMed using appropriate keywords for the papers published in English between 2010 and 2019. The included papers in this systematic review were appraised using Crowe Critical Appraisal Tool (CCAT). From 314 potential papers identified initially, five papers met the inclusion criteria for this review. All papers were of moderate to high quality. Discussion: This systematic review has provided valuable information on numerous immune-related microRNAs that can be found in human milk, including their immunological functions. The most abundantly expressed microRNAs include miR-146b, miR-148a, and miR-146a. The findings suggest that the microRNAs found in human milk along with their immunoregulatory functions were crucial in strengthening immune system of the infants.


Human milk, microRNA, infant, immune system, immunological functions

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