Rowett Seminar

Rowett Seminar

This is a past event

Dr Sean Austin, Group Leader, Carbohydrates Group in the Nestle Institute of Food Safety & Analytical Sciences

Sean Austin received his BSc in Applied Chemistry from the Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen, UK.  For his PhD he studied the plant cell wall polysaccharides from wheat at the Rowett Research Institute, Aberdeen in collaboration with the University of Nottingham. After his PhD Sean worked on the development of glycoconjugate vaccines at the National Institute for Biological Standards and Control, in the UK. In 2000 Sean moved to the Netherlands where he worked at Utrecht University on the characterization of recombinant human glycoproteins and bacterial capsular polysaccharides.  He currently works at Nestlé Research in Lausanne. His main responsibilities are to develop and support analytical methods for the analysis of carbohydrate-based components in food and biological samples. In over 20 years at Nestlé he has dealt with the analysis of mono-, oligo and polysaccharides, mostly using (U)HPLC, HPAEC-PAD, and LC-MS.  Most recently, his work has focused on the quantitative determination of oligosaccharides.

Title: Oligosaccharides in Milk.

Summary: Lactose is typically (but not always) the most abundant oligosaccharide in mammalian milk and is typically used as an energy source by the infant.  However, milk contains other non-lactose oligosaccharides (NLO) which are non-digestible and vary in content and complexity depending on the species.  Human milk has been extensively studied, the NLO content may vary between 5 – 23 g/L depending on the stage of lactation and the individual, and over 160 different NLO have been identified and characterized.  In contrast bovine milk contains very low levels of NLO (less than 0.2 g/L), and although over 20 structures have been identified, only 3 structures account for the majority of the NLO.  The NLO in human milk have been postulated to protect the infant from infection, to help establish the microbial ecosystem of the gastrointestinal tract, to modulate the developing immune system, and to be a potential source of sialic acid.  Presumably the milk NLO would play similar roles for other species.

Although many different NLO have been identified, limited quantitative data has been collected.  Amongst the difficulties in obtaining quantitative data are the limited availability of suitable standards and the lack of well validated methods. We have developed and validated a method for the quantitative determination of more than 20 NLOs, even in the absence of quantitative standards.  The method has been validated and applied for the analysis of milk samples in several studies which may help us to understand the factors which influence NLO concentration, and how in turn differences in milk composition influence health.

Dr Sean Austin
Hosted by
Prof Wendy Russell
The Rowett Institute

Staff and students only