Postpartum human breast milk levels of neutrophil gelatinase-associated lipocalin (NGAL) and matrix metalloproteinase-9 (MMP-9)/NGAL complex in normal and pregnancies complicated with insulin-dependent gestational diabetes mellitus. A prospective pilot case-control study

J Obstet Gynaecol. 2020 May;40(4):461-467. doi: 10.1080/01443615.2019.1628191. Epub 2019 Jul 29.

Dimitra Metallinou, Katerina Lykeridou, Grigorios Karampas, Georgios Theodoros Liosis, Chrysanthi Skevaki, Myrto Rizou, Ioannis Papassotiriou, Demetrios Rizos

Abstract: Neutrophil gelatinase-associated lipocalin (NGAL) and its complex with matrix metalloproteinase-9 (MMP-9) are present in a variety of human tissues and extracellular fluids. The aim of this pilot prospective case-control study was to detect NGAL and MMP-9/NGAL complex in human breast milk postpartum in women with normal and pregnancies that developed insulin-depended gestational diabetes mellitus (iGDM). We detected both biomarkers in human breast milk and concentrations were determined at the first day of colostrum secretion and two days after, in 22 normal pregnancies and 13 pregnancies with iGDM. Mean NGAL concentration decreased significantly from the first to the second sample, in both groups. Mean MMP-9/NGAL complex concentration decreased also significantly from the first to the second sample in normal pregnancies. Mean complex concentration was significantly higher in diabetic pregnancies compared to normal ones in the second sample.IMPACT STATEMENT What is already known on this subject? There is limited information on the presence of Neutrophil gelatinase-associated lipocalin (NGAL) in human milk and its physiological role. What the results of this study add? It is the first time that MMP-9/NGAL complex is detected in human milk in both normal and pregnancies complicated with insulin-depended gestational diabetes mellitus (iGDM). We confirm the presence of NGAL in colostrum of normal pregnancies and for the first time we detected NGAL in milk of pregnancies with iGDM. Concentrations of NGAL and MMP-9/NGAL complex tend to lessen postpartum in both groups. Pregnancies with iGDM compared to normal ones showed significantly higher concentration of MMP-9/NGAL complex two days after the beginning of lactation.What the implications are of these findings for clinical practice and/or further research? Further studies are necessary to determine the levels of NGAL and MMP-9/NGAL complex in human milk postpartum in normal and pathological pregnancies. Taking into consideration the well-established NGAL’s ability to act as a bacteriostatic agent and its mucosal healing activity in gastrointestinal track, early breastfeeding of neonates is a logical recommendation. Finally, new studies on the actual physiological role of milk NGAL in neonates are necessary.

Keywords: MMP-9/NGAL complex; Milk; NGAL; diabetic pregnancy; lipocalin-2.