Comparison of Milk Oligosaccharides Pattern in Colostrum of Different Horse Breeds

For those of you involved in breeding horses, here’s a new study out of The Netherlands that looked at milk oligosaccharides in colostrum in four different horse breeds (Dutch Warmblood, Shetland pony, crossbred Arabian/New Forest pony, and Friesian). The researchers made some new discoveries, and the comparisons are interesting.

The article “Comparison of milk oligosaccharides pattern in colostrum of different horse breeds” is available free (after registration) from the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.


Colostrum oligosaccharides are known to exhibit prebiotic and immunomodulatory properties. Oligosaccharide composition is species-specific, and equine colostrum has been reported to contain unique oligosaccharides. Therefore, equine oligosaccharides (EMOS) from colostrum from different horse breeds were analyzed by CE-LIF, CE-MSn, HILIC-MSn, and exoglycosidase degradation. Sixteen EMOS were characterized and quantified, of which half were neutral and half were acidic. EMOS showed about 63% structural overlap with human milk oligosaccharides, known for their bioactivity. Seven EMOS were not reported before in equine oligosaccharides literature: neutral Gal (β1−4) HexΝΑc, Gal(β1-4)Hex-Hex, β4’-galactosyllactose, and lactose-N-hexaose, as well as acidic 6’-Sialyl-Hex-Ac-HexNAc, sialyllacto-N-tetraose-a, and disialylacto-N-tetraose (isomer no further specified). In all colostrum samples, average oligosaccharide concentration ranged from 2.12 to 4.63 g/L; with β6’and 3’-galactosyllactose, 3’-sialyllactose, and disialyllactose as the most abundant of all oligosaccharides (27-59, 16-37, 1-8, and 1-6%, respectively). Differences in presence and in abundance of specific EMOS were evident; not only between the four breeds, but also within the breed.


E. Difilippo, H.A.M. Willems, J.C.Vendrig, H. Gruppen, and H.A. Schols, Wageningen University, Laboratory of Food Chemistry, Wageningen, The Netherlands; J. Fink Gremmels, Utrecht University, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Institute for Risk Assessment Sciences, subdivision of Veterinary Pharmacology, Pharmacotherapy and Toxicology, The Netherlands.

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