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Open Access Highly Accessed Review

Milk is not just food but most likely a genetic transfection system activating mTORC1 signaling for postnatal growth

Bodo C Melnik1*, Swen Malte John1 and Gerd Schmitz2

Author affiliations

1 Department of Dermatology, Environmental Medicine and Health Theory, University of Osnabrück, Sedanstrasse 115, D-49090, Osnabrück, Germany

2 Institute of Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine, University Clinics of Regensburg, Josef-Strauss-Allee 11, D-93053, Regensburg, Germany

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Citation and License

Nutrition Journal 2013, 12:103  doi:10.1186/1475-2891-12-103

Published: 25 July 2013

Abstract

Milk has been recognized to represent a functionally active nutrient system promoting neonatal growth of mammals. Cell growth is regulated by the nutrient-sensitive kinase mechanistic target of rapamycin complex 1 (mTORC1). There is still a lack of information on the mechanisms of mTORC1 up-regulation by milk consumption. This review presents milk as a materno-neonatal relay system functioning by transfer of preferential amino acids, which increase plasma levels of glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide (GIP), glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1), insulin, growth hormone (GH) and insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) for mTORC1 activation. Importantly, milk exosomes, which regularly contain microRNA-21, most likely represent a genetic transfection system enhancing mTORC1-driven metabolic processes. Whereas human breast milk is the ideal food for infants allowing appropriate postnatal growth and species-specific metabolic programming, persistent high milk signaling during adolescence and adulthood by continued cow´s milk consumption may promote mTORC1-driven diseases of civilization.

Keywords:
Branched-chain amino acids; Diseases of civilization; Glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide; Glucagon-like peptide-1; Exosomal microRNA; Leucine; MicroRNA-21; Milk; mTORC1; Postnatal growth; Tryptophan