Let’s talk immunity with experts

Let’s get the view on immunity from Prof. dr. Joost van Neerven, Professor of Mucosal Immunity and member of Cell Biology and Immunology Group at Wageningen University and Senior Scientist at FrieslandCampina. He explains the role of specific nutrients when it comes to building immunity in early life.  

Explaining the immunoregulatory benefits of lipids

The term ‘lipids’ covers both short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs), which are produced by gut microbiota, and long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCPUFAs) such as DHA and ARA, a type of resp. omega-3 and omega-6. Both types of fatty acid have been scientifically demonstrated to offer a variety of health benefits for infants, including when it comes to immunity.[19-23]

We asked Prof. dr. Joost van Neerven to tell us more about how lipids influence the immune response. He explains how SCFAs are known to support the barrier function of protective epithelial cells, and to inhibit inflammation. Omega-3s and -6s like DHA and ARA also have an anti-inflammatory effect, which is one of the reasons why they are such an important component of breast milk.

Preserving the goodness of bovine derived immunoglobulins

We often talk about how amazing the human immune system is, but when was the last time you had a conversation about mucous membranes? These guard the body at every potential site of infection, enabling immunoglobulins, otherwise known as antibodies, to get to work protecting our respiratory and digestive systems by binding to pathogens.

Prof. dr. Joost van Neerven tells us how the mucosal immune system protects the body in early life, shedding more light on the role of immunoglobulins that are present in breast milk. Researchers are now exploring the potential benefits of bovine derived immunoglobulins, present in cow’s milk, and how they respond to human pathogens. Watch as he explains why it’s important to preserve the nutritional content and functional abilities of bovine derived immunoglobulins through gentler processing methods.

Infant immunity and the gut microbiota

Even before they are born, every person is the host to colonies of bacteria in and on their bodies, mostly in the gut. Together, these bacteria form the human microbiota. Did you know that the composition of an infant’s gut microbiota can influence the way their immune system develops and behaves?

In this video, Prof. dr. Joost van Neerven explains how breast milk plays a role in establishing an infant’s gut microbiota. It contains many beneficial nutrients, including complex sugars called oligosaccharides, which nourish certain strains of “good” bacteria that can support the immune system. Watch the video for his expert explanation of how oligosaccharides can influence microbiota, and how – in turn – the microbiota can influence the immune system.

Related Ingredients


Aequival® 2’-FL

Can support immunity by stimulating the growth of Bifidobacteria1,2, reducing the risk of infections3-6, and via its potential anti-inflammatory effect8,9 and role in gut maturation7.



Vivinal® MFGM

Supports the development of the immune system via its potential role in gut maturation11,12,14, gut barrier function10,13 and by reducing the risk of infections15-18



Vana-Sana ® Micro-encapsulated LC-PUFA oils

Features DHA and ARA, involved in the prevention of common respiratory complaints and diarrhoea20,21. These fatty acids steer cells of the adaptive immune system22 and assist in gut barrier integrity23



About Prof. Dr. Joost van Neerven

Prof. dr. Joost van Neerven is a senior Scientist at FrieslandCampina and Professor of Mucosal Immunity at Wageningen University, the Netherlands. Trained as a biologist, he received his PhD in 1995 from the University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands on the role of T cells in allergy. He headed the immunology lab ALK-Abello in Denmark and studied the application of allergens for immunotherapy and the underlying immunological mechanisms. In 2003, he co-founded Bioceros BV, a biotechnology company that develops and manufactures therapeutic monoclonal antibodies.


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  2. Lewis, Z. T. et al. Maternal fucosyltransferase 2 status affects the gut bifidobacterial communities of breastfed infants. Microbiome 3, 13 (2015).
  3. Weichert, S. et al. Bioengineered 2’-fucosyllactose and 3-fucosyllactose inhibit the adhesion of Pseudomonas aeruginosa and enteric pathogens to human intestinal and respiratory cell lines. Res. 33, 831–8 (2013).
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