Factors affecting milk and milk fraction composition, such as cream, are poorly understood, with most research and human health application associated with cow cream. In this study, proteomic and lipidomic analyses were performed on cow, goat, sheep and Bubalus bubalis (from now on referred to as buffalo), bulk milk cream samples. Confocal laser scanning microscopy was used to determine the composition, including protein, lipid and their glycoconjugates, and the structure of the milk fat globules. BLAST2GO was used to annotate functional indicators of cream protein.
Functional annotation of protein highlighted a broad level of similarity between species. However, investigation of specific biological process terms revealed distinct differences in antigen processing and presentation, activation, and production of molecular mediators of the immune response. Lipid analyses revealed that saturated fatty acids were lowest in sheep cream and similar in the cream of the other species. Palmitic acid was highest in cow and lowest in sheep cream. Cow and sheep milk fat globules were associated with thick patches of protein on the surface, while buffalo and goat milk fat globules were associated with larger areas of aggregated protein and significant surface adsorbed protein, respectively.
This study highlights the differences between cow, goat, sheep, and buffalo milk cream, which can be used to support their potential application in functional foods such as infant milk formula.