Milk proteomics

Variability of the proteome of raw milk.

Assistant professor: Kasper Hettinga, PhD
Assistant professor: Kasper Hettinga, PhD


Milk contains a few proteins in relatively high concentration. This are the 4 different casein, α-lactalbumin, and β-lactoglobulin. Next to these 6 proteins, a wide range of hundreds of low abundant proteins occur. These low-abundant proteins have a wide range of activities: immune-related (e.g. immunoglobulins, complement factors, lactoferrin), enzymes (e.g. lactoperoxidase, lysozyme), growth-factors (e.g. IGF-I), bio-active peptides (e.g. break-down products of caseins having a blood-pressure lowering effect). Advanced proteomics techniques can be used to study these proteins, both qualitatively and quantitatively.


The main goals of the milk proteomics research are:
  • Understanding milk synthesis in the mammary epithelial cells by analyzing the synthesis-associated proteins and enzymes in milk and the proteins associated with transport of milk components.
  • Identification, quantification, and understanding of the immune proteins in milk. Of interest is also the differences between mammalian species, as this may shed a light on the evolutionary origin of these proteins.

This is a multidisciplinary research line, in which several groups of Wageningen University are brought together, with collaborators like the Laboratory of Biochemistry, the Animal Breeding and Genomics Centre, the Cell Biology and Immunology group and others.


The general aims mentioned above are currently being studied in three separate PhD projects:
-Understanding milk synthesis - Lu Jing
-Variability of immune proteins - Lina Zhang
-Tolerance induction in milk allergy - Fahui Liu