Structural determination of the oligosaccharides in the milk of an Asian elephant (Elephas maximus)

Yusuke Uemura, Sadaki Asakuma, Lisa Yon, Tadao Saito, Kenji Fukuda, Ikichi Arai, Tadasu Urashima

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36 Citations (Scopus)


Milk of an Asian elephant (Elephas maximus), collected at 11 days post partum, contained 91 g/L of hexose and 3 g/L of sialic acid. The dominant saccharide in this milk sample was lactose, but it also contained isoglobotriose (Glc(α1-3)Gal(β1-4)Glc) as well as a variety of sialyl oligosaccharides. The sialyl oligosaccharides were separated from neutral saccharides by anion exchange chromatography on DEAE-Sephadex A-50 and successive gel chromatography on Bio Gel P-2. They were purified by high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) using an Amide-80 column and characterized by 1H-NMR spectroscopy. Their structures were determined to be those of 3′-sialyllactose, 6′-sialyllactose, monofucosyl monosialyl lactose (Neu5Ac(α2-3)Gal(β1-4)[Fuc(α1-3)]Glc), sialyl lacto-N-neotetraose c (LST c), galactosyl monosialyl lacto-N-neohexaose, galactosyl monofucosyl monosialyl lacto-N-neohexaose and three novel oligosaccharides as follows: Neu5Ac(α2-3)Gal(β1-4)[Fuc(α1-3)]GlcNAc(β1-3)Gal(β1-4)Glc, Neu5Ac(α2-6)Gal(β1-4)GlcNAc(β1-3)Gal(β1-4)GlcNAc(β1-3)Gal(β1-4)Glc, and Neu5Ac(α2-3)Gal(β1-4)[Fuc(α1-3)]GlcNAc(β1-3)Gal(β1-4)[Fuc(α1-3)]GlcNAc(β1-3)Gal(β1-4)Glc. The higher oligosaccharides contained only the type II chain (Gal(β1-4)GlcNAc); this finding differed from previously published data on Asian elephant milk oligosaccharides.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)468-478
Number of pages11
JournalComparative Biochemistry and Physiology - A Molecular and Integrative Physiology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2006 Dec
Externally publishedYes


  • Asian elephant
  • Elephas maximus
  • Isoglobotriose
  • Lacto-N-neotetraose
  • Milk oligosaccharides
  • NMR spectroscopy
  • Para lacto-N-neohexaose
  • Sialyl Lewis x
  • Type II chain

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Physiology
  • Molecular Biology


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