Immunological properties of donkey's milk: its potential use in the prevention of atherosclerosis

Current Pharmaceutical Design
A TafaroE Jirillo

Abstract

Donkey's milk is the best substitute of human milk for its content in lactose, proteins, minerals, and omega-3 fatty acids. Here, we have evaluated the effects of colostrum and milk from donkeys (Martina Franca breed) on the function of human peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) at different intervals from lactation. Colostrum induced more IgA responses, while milk induced predominantly more IgG responses. Both milk and colostrum induced expression of CD25 and CD69 on PBMCs. The ability to induce release of interleukins (IL) (IL-12, IL-1 beta and IL-10) and tumor necrosis factor-alpha was confined only to milk, while colostrum was devoid of this capacity. Finally, both colostrum and milk induced nitric oxide (NO) release from PBMCs but milk exhibited a greater capacity than colostrum in NO generation. Taken together, these immunological activities exerted by both colostrum and milk from donkeys may be useful in the treatment of human immune-related diseases. In particular, NO induction by donkey's milk may be very useful in the prevention of atherosclerosis, being a strong vasodilator and an effective antimicrobial agent since pathogens and/or their products may play a proatherogenic role.

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