Donkeys milk is the best substitute of human milk for its content in lactose, proteins, minerals, and ω-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-1β and IL-10) and tumor necrosis factor-α 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 donkeys 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.
Keywords: Atherosclerosis, cytokines, colostrum, donkey, immunoglobulin, milk, nitric oxide, peripheral blood mononuclear cells
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