Date of Award


Document Type

Master Thesis

Degree Name

Masters of Science (Research)


Biological Sciences

First Advisor

Dr Fiona O'Halloran

Second Advisor

Dr Aoife McCarthy


From the early twentieth century onward, much research has focused on improving infant milk formula (IMF). During the development of IMF, breast milk is commonly considered as the reference and IMF manufacturers are thriving to mimic the composition and/or to match the functionality of breast milk as closely as possible. A variety of bioactive ingredients, found in human breast milk, have been isolated and investigated for their potential functionality and utilised in the production of IMF. This study evaluated the current knowledge on compositional differences between human breast milk and IMF, and recent advances and developments in IMF production. Following this evaluation, the present research aims to generate novel IMF formulations with different protein and lipid profiles, using novel oils and different whey sources. It is hypothesised that blending a variety of vegetable oils in suitable proportions will produce a fatty acid profile that more closely mimics that of human milk and that the addition of alpha-lactalbumin (α-lac) enriched whey protein concentrate (αWPC) will improve protein quality and phospholipid (PL) profile in IMF. The bioactive properties of produced formulations are then investigated and compared prior to and following simulated in vitro gastro-intestinal digestion (SGID) with an infant model, to allow a more physiologically relevant evaluation of the potential bioactivity of bioavailable compounds. Specific in vitro bioactivities which are investigated are anti-infective, anti-adhesion, and antioxidant properties. IMF prototypes enriched with αWPC resulted in higher α-lac levels and PLs, which were all closer to these reported in human milk, compared to prototypes, containing demineralised whey powder (DWP). This study has shown that there is no bactericidal activity or anti-adhesion effect exhibited by designed IMF prototypes, however, several tested oil blends have demonstrated the ability to protect against cellular oxidative damage induced by hydrogen peroxide (H2O2). The results have demonstrated the potential benefits of IMF enrichment with αWPC. This strategy may serve as a viable option to further support the development of optimal IMF for infants.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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