The effect of human colostrum on the production of IL-1, IL-3 and IL-6 by peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) has been investigated. The aqueous phase of human colostrum significantly stimulated the production of these three cytokines. These findings show the importance of breast feeding not only as a well-balanced nutrient supply but also as a source for growth-promoting factors. It is suggested that the enhanced secretion of IL-1, IL-3 and IL-6 induced by human colostrum may compensate for the lower capacity of neonatal PBMCs to produce these cytokines. It is also possible that, by stimulating the secretion of these cytokines, breast feeding may provide an additional mechanism for the regulation of the neonatal immune system and hematopoiesis.

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