Let’s talk immunity with experts

Let’s talk immunity with expert Prof. dr. ir. Huub Savelkoul. He is a leading researcher in immunity, heading the Cell Biology and Immunology Group at Wageningen University & Research in the Netherlands. He talks about the importance of building immunity in early life.

Role of nutrition in building up the immune system

Susceptible to a number of harmful pathogens from the day they are born, babies must receive the necessary nutrients for fighting infections and building immunity.

In this video, Prof. dr. ir. Huub Savelkoul explains the role of nutrition in building up a child’s immune system. He discusses the ways in which antibodies such as immunoglobulins – present in human breastmilk and added to most infant formula – are not only crucial to maintaining immunity but can also help establish immune regulation from a young age.

Discover how the infant immune system works

The immune system is essential in protecting young children from illness, but the way that it develops and functions in infants is dependent on a variety of factors.

In this video, Prof. dr. ir. Huub Savelkoul explains how a newborn’s immune system works. He discusses the role of the microbiota in building up immunity in the very first stages of life, detailing how oligosaccharides – present in human breastmilk – can promote the growth of immunity-building bacteria in the first few months of life.

Discover how FrieslandCampina Ingredients can help support immunity in infants:


Vivinal® MFGM

Supports the development of the immune system via its potential role in gut maturation9,10,12, gut barrier function8,11 and by reducing the risk of infections13-16



Vivinal® GOS

Supports immunity by stimulating growth of healthy bacteria (e.g. Bifidobacteria) in the infant gut1,2, reducing the risk of infections3-5 and supporting gut barrier function6,7




About Prof. dr. ir. Huub Savelkoul

Prof. dr. ir. Huub Savelkoul is a leading researcher in immunity, heading up the Cell Biology and Immunology Group at Wageningen University & Research in the Netherlands. With an academic background in Biology and majors in Biochemistry, Genetics, Cell Biology and Immunology, Savelkoul completed his PhD research at the University of Rotterdam (1982-1988). He then became a postdoctoral fellow at the DNAX Research Institute of Molecular and Cellular Biology in Palo Alto, California (1988-1990), before joining the immunology department in Rotterdam. In 2000 he obtained an NWO Van der Leeuw professorship in Immunology and he has been a professor at Wageningen University & Research since 2003.

The research conducted by Prof. dr. ir. Huub Savelkoul focuses on the mechanisms of food allergies, antibody formation regulation, immunomodulation by food and feed, immunochemistry, the allergenicity of food allergens, and new developments in immunodiagnostics. He also works as a consultant in immunology, allergy, vaccines, diagnostics and nutrition.


  1. Ben, X.-M. et al. Supplementation of milk formula with galacto-oligosaccharides improves intestinal micro-flora and fermentation in infants. Chin. Med. J. (Engl). 117, 927–931 (2004).
  2. Fanaro, S. et al. Galacto-oligosaccharides are bifidogenic and safe at weaning: a double-blind randomized multicenter study. J. Pediatr. Gastroenterol. Nutr. 48, 82–8 (2009).
  3. Arslanoglu, S., Moro, G. E. & Boehm, G. Early supplementation of prebiotic oligosaccharides protects formula-fed infants against infections during the first 6 months of life. J. Nutr. 137, 2420–4 (2007).
  4. Arslanoglu, S. et al. Early dietary intervention with a mixture of prebiotic oligosaccharides reduces the incidence of allergic manifestations and infections during the first two years of life. J. Nutr. 138, 1091–1095 (2008).
  5. Ranucci, G. et al. Galacto-oligosaccharide/polidextrose enriched formula protects against respiratory infections in infants at high risk of atopy: A randomized clinical trial. Nutrients 10, (2018).
  6. Akbari, P. et al. Galacto-oligosaccharides Protect the Intestinal Barrier by Maintaining the Tight Junction Network and Modulating the Inflammatory Responses after a Challenge with the Mycotoxin Deoxynivalenol in Human Caco-2 Cell. J Nutr 145, 1604–1613 (2015).
  7. Krumbeck, J. A., Rasmussen, H. E., Hutkins, R. W., Clarke, J. & Shawron, K. Probiotic Bifidobacterium strains and galactooligosaccharides improve intestinal barrier function in obese adults but show no synergism when used together as synbiotics. Microbiome 6, 1–16 (2018).
  8. Anderson RC, MacGibbon AKH, Haggarty N, et al (2018) Bovine dairy complex lipids improve in vitro measures of small intestinal epithelial barrier integrity. PLoS One. 2018 Jan 5;13(1):e0190839.
  9. Motouri M, Matsuyama H, Yamamura J, et al (2003) Milk sphingomyelin accelerates enzymatic and morphological maturation of the intestine in artificially reared rats. J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 2003 Feb;36(2):241-7
  10. Lee H, Zavaleta N, Chen S-Y, et al (2018) Effect of bovine milk fat globule membranes as a complementary food on the serum metabolome and immune markers of 6-11-month-old Peruvian infants. npj Sci Food 2:6.
  11. Snow DR, Ward RE, Olsen a, et al (2011) Membrane-rich milk fat diet provides protection against gastrointestinal leakiness in mice treated with lipopolysaccharide. J Dairy Sci 94:2201–2212.
  12. Bhinder G, Allaire JM, Garcia C, et al (2017) Milk Fat Globule Membrane Supplementation in Formula Modulates the Neonatal Gut Microbiome and Normalizes Intestinal Development. Sci Rep 7:45274.
  13. Zavaleta, N. et al. Efficacy of an MFGM-enriched complementary food in diarrhea, anemia, and micronutrient status in infants. J. Pediatr. Gastroenterol. Nutr. 53, 561–568 (2011).
  14.  Timby, N. et al. Infections in infants fed formula supplemented with bovine milk fat globule membranes. J. Pediatr. Gastroenterol. Nutr. 60, 384–389 (2015).
  15.  Li F, Wu SS, Berseth CL, et al (2019) Improved Neurodevelopmental Outcomes Associated with Bovine Milk Fat Globule Membrane and Lactoferrin in Infant Formula: A Randomized, Controlled Trial. J Pediatr 215:24-31.e8.
  16. Veereman-Wauters, G. et al. Milk fat globule membrane (INPULSE) enriched formula milk decreases febrile episodes and may improve behavioral regulation in young children. Nutrition 28, 749–752 (2012).

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