Chemical characterization of oligosaccharides in chimpanzee, bonobo, gorilla, orangutan, and siamang milk or colostrum.
Neutral and acidic oligosaccharides were isolated from the milk or colostrum of four great ape species (chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes), bonobo (Pan paniscus), gorilla (Gorilla gorilla), and orangutan (Pongo pygmaeus)) and one lesser ape species (siamang (Symphalangus syndactylus)), and their chemical structures were characterized by (1)H-NMR spectroscopy. Oligosaccharides containing the type II unit (Gal(beta1-4)GlcNAc) were found exclusively (gorilla and siamang) or predominately (chimpanzee, bonobo, and orangutan) over those containing the type I unit (Gal(beta1-3)GlcNAc). In comparison, type I oligosaccharides predominate over type II oligosaccharides in human milk, whereas nonprimate milk almost always contains only type II oligosaccharides. The milk or colostrum of the great apes contained oligosaccharides bearing both N-glycolylneuraminic acid and N-acetylneuraminic acid, whereas human milk contains only the latter. Great ape milk, like that of humans, contained fucosylated oligosaccharides whereas siamang milk did not. Since these analyses are based on a limited number of individuals, further research on additional samples of great and lesser ape milk is needed to confirm phylogenetic patterns.