Non-coding RNAs in breast milk and their potential role in type 1 diabetes

Breastfeeding is associated with a reduced risk of type 1 diabetes (T1D) for the infant. As breastmilk is known to contain micorRNAd, we wish to compare the levels of microRNAs in breastmilk from healthy control and T1D lactating mothers.

Breast milk is a complex liquid rich in nutrients and immunological factors important for shaping the intestinal microbiota and to facilitate the maturation of the infant´s immune system. Notably, breastfeeding lowers the risk of early onset of immune-mediated diseases including T1D. Recent studies found that exosomes in breastmilk contain immune-modulatory miRNAs. As miRNAs are crucial modulators of gene expression, an attractive hypothesis is that miRNAs transferred via exosomes in breastmilk from the mother to the infant modifies the expression of key genes in the effector and/or target tissues, i.e. immune- and beta cells, to affect T1D risk. However, whether breastmilk from T1D mothers contains aberrant levels of miRNAs have not been established. Also it is currently unknown of such aberrantly-expressed miRNAs may modify immune- and/or beta cell function.


The objective of the project is to measure and compare the levels of miRNA in exosomes from breastmilk from healthy control and T1D mothers, and to functionally examine the potential biological roles of such miRNAs in human cell models.


Aashiq H. Mirza, Weill Cornell Medical College, USA
Henrik B. Mortensen, Copenhagen University Hospital Herlev, Denmark


Capital Region of Denmark’s Research Fund for Health Science (Henrik B. Mortensen)