Project MDSC in breast milk – The role of myeloid derived suppressor cells (MDSC) from breast milk for immune development…

Basic data

MDSC in breast milk
The role of myeloid derived suppressor cells (MDSC) from breast milk for immune development of the neonate
01/11/2019 to 31/10/2022
Abstract / short description:
Infections are one of the most important complications in the treatment of preterm infants. The increased susceptibility to infections seen in neonates is attributed to an altered immune response compared to adult individuals. In preterm infants, it has been shown that alterations in the intestinal microbiome precede onset of the disease and that causative pathogens often descend from the intestinal flora of the infected infant itself, highlighting specific defects in mucosal immunity. Breast milk (BM) is the perfect nutrition for infants. Besides all essential nutritional components, BM contains non-nutrient immunological factors like immunoglobulins, antimicrobial proteins and immune cells that may promote microbiome establishment and protect newborns against acute respiratory, gastrointestinal and systemic infections. In addition, breastfeeding is also associated with a reduced risk of chronic inflammatory diseases in later life such as asthma, atopy, diabetes, obesity and inflammatory bowel disease, suggesting long-term immunomodulatory effects. Mechanisms regulating these effects are only incompletely understood. Myeloid derived suppressor cells (MDSC) are myeloid cells with suppressive activity on other immune cells, especially on T-cells. Recently, our group could show that BM contains a large population of MDSC (BM-MDSC). Based on this finding, we now assume that the transfer of BM-MDSC from mother to child may influence mucosal immunity and microbiome establishment, thereby regulating immune system development, acute inflammation in neonates and chronic inflammation in later life. In the project, three hypotheses will be addressed:
1) BM-MDSC shape the immune system of the neonate and facilitate microbiome establishment
2) BM-MDSC control inflammation in neonates and protect from acute inflammatory diseases
3) BM-MDSC protect from chronic inflammatory diseases in later life
For this purpose, descriptive approaches like transcriptome and microbiome analyses, a clinical study and in vivo mouse models will be exploited. Different mouse models serve as examples for immune maturation (vaccination model, bacterial translocation) and for inflammation mediated diseases during neonatal time (NEC model) and in later life (obesity model) and are closely related to each other.

Involved staff


Faculty of Medicine
University of Tübingen

Local organizational units

Paediatrics Department IV
University Children’s Hospital - Department of Paediatrics
Hospitals and clinical institutes, Faculty of Medicine


Bonn, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany

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