SFEL session “Dairy lipids and their effects on health”, ISSFAL Virtual Congress, May 11, 2021

In May 2021, the SFEL organized a scientific session on dairy lipids and their effects on human health during the ISSFAL virtual congress. This session was made possible with the help of the ISSFAL Board and our two sponsors, CNIEL (Centre National Interprofessionnel de l'Economie Laitière) and the French dairy cooperative group SODIAAL. It was organized and hosted by three members of the SFEL board, Bernadette Delplanque, Claire Bourlieu-Lacanal, and Philippe Guesnet, following the CHEVREUL conference by Professor Robert Gibson (Australia).

As a preamble, current scientific data indicate that regular consumption of high-fat dairy products could have beneficial effects on lipid metabolism and its complications, on chronic inflammation, and on the body status of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) in breastfed infants with milk containing dairy fats. Beyond the very specific fatty acid composition of dairy lipids (medium-chain fatty acids, specific trans monounsaturated isomers), the structure of the lipid globule and other lipids such as polar lipids (phosphatidylcholine, sphingomyelin, and gangliosides) could have effects on human health. The main objective of this session was to illustrate the nutritional impact of polar lipids and the milk fat globule membrane through three presentations by Claire Bourlieu-Lacanal (INRAE Montpellier, review on milk polar lipids), Marie-Caroline Michalsky (INRAE Lyon, impact of milk sphingolipids on lipid metabolism and intestinal health), and Marion Lemaire (SODIAAL, dairy components and programming).

The summaries of the presentations appear at the end of this page, and the videos of the presentations are accessible through the following links:

Dairy polar lipids - an overview of their nutritional value and interest for human nutrition

Claire Bourlieu1,2, Philippe Guesnet2, Jeanne Kergomard1,3, Véronique Vié3, Olivia Ménard4, Didier Dupont4, Bernadette Delplanque2

1UMR 1208 IATE, INRAE, Univ Montpellier, Institut Agro, Montpellier, France; 2SFEL, French Society for the Study of Lipids, Paris, France; 3IPR Institute of Physics, Rennes University 1, Rennes, France; 4UMR 1253 STLO, INRAE, Agrocampus Ouest, Rennes, France;


The diverse polar lipids found in the milk fat globule membrane have been the subject of numerous studies demonstrating their nutritional interest for the general population or for certain targets with specific needs (seniors, infants, sportsmen and women, etc.). These polar lipids are concentrated in certain dairy co-products (buttermilk or butter serum, for example) but are also dispersed in other dairy products. The bioactivity of the different components of dairy polar lipids (anticholesterolemic effect of phosphatidylcholine and sphingomyelin, antiviral effects and regulation of the microbiota induced by gangliosides, memory improvement effect or cognitive function of phosphatidylserine, etc.) will be presented and discussed in light of recent literature.

Milk sphingolipids: towards joint effects on lipid metabolism, intestinal health, and gut microbiota

Marie-Caroline MICHALSKI

CarMeN laboratory, INRAE UMR 1397, Inserm U1060, Université Claude Bernard Lyon 1, Centre de Recherche en Nutrition Humaine Rhône-Alpes

This presentation will focus on recent preclinical and clinical studies highlighting that polar lipids of the milk fat globule membrane, including sphingolipids, beneficially impact lipid metabolism and metabolic disease risk. We will highlight possible mechanisms, such as those related to the impact of milk lipids in the gut. This includes residues of sphingolipids, which can reach the colon and exert effects of physiological interest notably by interacting with the gut microbiota and contributing to gut barrier function. Buttermilk, a dairy product poor in triacylglycerols but particularly rich in polar lipids including sphingolipids, could thereby be an asset ingredient for human nutrition.

Impact of dairy components addition on metabolic and microbiota programming: where do we stand?

Marion LEMAIRE, Isabelle Le Huërou-Luron, and Sophie BLAT

Institut NuMeCan, INRAE, INSERM, Univ Rennes, St-Gilles, France

Early nutrition is essential to ensure optimal infant growth and development, especially regarding the digestive functions, which are immature at birth. While human milk is recognized as the gold standard for infant nutrition, a large proportion of infants are formula-fed. Despite obvious improvements over the past 50 years, infant formulas remain perfectible to better approach the physiological effects of breast milk. In addition, according to the developmental origins of health and disease (DOHaD), the early life environment may have long-lasting effects on health. Gut microbiota has recently been identified as a potential key actor of such an imprint, and gut microbiota dysbiosis has been associated with an increased susceptibility to metabolic disorders. The objective of our study was to compare the digestion of infant formulas containing dairy lipids in the presence or absence of probiotic Lactobacillus fermentum (Lf) to a reference formula containing only plant lipids, and to evaluate their metabolic impact in infant formula-fed piglets. In addition, the long-term consequences in adulthood on gut microbiota, host entero-insular axis, and metabolism were investigated in a diet-induced overweight Yucatan minipig model to reveal a potential latent programming effect induced by the infant formula composition. Our results demonstrated that the addition of dairy lipids and Lf in infant formula modulated protein and lipid digestion, with beneficial, though moderate, physiological effects in infants. Our study also highlighted a programming effect of the infant formula composition, i.e., the fat matrix and the addition of probiotic Lf, on gut microbiota composition and metabolism. A beneficial programming effect of dairy lipids in the presence of Lf was also evidenced on the entero-insular axis function in adults, suggesting that the addition of dairy lipids and Lf in infant formulas may represent an efficient way to better approach the long-term physiological effects of breast milk.