Human mature milk and colostrum contain 12-13 g/L and 22-24 g/L of milk oligosaccharides respectively, and the structures of least 115 human milk oligosaccharides (HMOs) have been characterized to date. By way of comparison, bovine colostrum collected immediately post partum contains only around 1 g/L of oligosaccharides, and this concentration rapidly decreases after 48 h. It was recently recognized that HMOs have several biological functions, and this study area has become very active, as illustrated by a recent symposium, but it appears that advances in studies on the milk oligosaccharides of domestic farm animals, including cows, have been rather slow compared with those on HMOs. Nevertheless, studies on bovine milk oligosaccharides (BMOs) have progressed recently, especially in regard to structural characterization, with the development of methods termed glycomics. This review is concerned with recent progress in studies on the milk oligosaccharides of domestic farm animals, especially of BMOs and bovine glycoproteins, and it discusses the possibility of industrial utilization in the near future.
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