Sialic acid, the secret gift for the brain

Fan Liu, Anna Bella Simpson, Esmee D'Costa, Fanny Sophia Bunn, Sander S. van Leeuwen*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

    16 Citations (Scopus)
    163 Downloads (Pure)

    Abstract

    The human brain grows rapidly in early life which requires adequate nutrition. Human milk provides optimal nutrition for the developing brain, and breastfeeding significantly improves the cognition development of infants. These benefits have been largely attributed to human milk oligosaccharides (HMOS), associated with sialic acid (Sia). Subsequently, sialylated HMOS present a vital source of exogenous Sia to infants. Sialic acid is a key molecule essential for proper development of gangliosides, and therefore critical in brain development and function. Recent pre-clinical studies suggest dietary supplementation with Sia or sialylated oligosaccharides enhances intelligence and cognition performance in early and later life. Furthermore, emerging evidence suggests the involvement of Sia in brain homeostasis and disbalance correlates with common pathologies such as Alzheimer's disease (AD). Therefore, this review will discuss early brain health and development and the role of Sia in this process. Additionally, studies associating breastfeeding and specific HMOS to benefits in cognitive development are critically assessed. Furthermore, the review will assess studies implying the potential role of HMOS and microbiota in brain development via the gut-brain axis. Finally, the review will summarize recent advances regarding the role of Sia in neurodegenerative disease in later life and potential roles of dietary Sia sources.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)9875-9894
    Number of pages20
    JournalCritical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition
    Volume63
    Issue number29
    Early online date9-May-2022
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2023

    Keywords

    • Breastfeeding
    • human milk oligosaccharides
    • sialic acid
    • brain development
    • neurodegenerative diseases
    • HUMAN-MILK OLIGOSACCHARIDES
    • CELL-ADHESION MOLECULE
    • BIFIDOBACTERIUM-LONGUM NCC3001
    • POLYUNSATURATED FATTY-ACIDS
    • POLYSIALIC ACID
    • DIETARY SIALYLLACTOSE
    • COLONIC MICROBIOTA
    • ESSENTIAL NUTRIENT
    • PRETERM INFANTS
    • CORPUS-CALLOSUM

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