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Allen Lab
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ALLEN LAB (MILQ LAB)

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    • Lindsay Allen, Ph.D.

      Research Leader

      Research Professor, UC Davis Department of Nutrition

      Office: (530) 752-5268

      Email address: lindsay.allen@usda.gov

      Google Scholar page

      Research Interests

      The Allen laboratory focuses on: (1) metabolic and functional effects of vitamin B12 status and supplementation, including the development and validation of a new B12 status indicator (cB12) and metabolomics; (2) new methods for efficient micronutrient analyses in human milk; (3) development of Reference Values for nutrients in human milk; (4) assessment of the impact of maternal supplementation on milk quality and consequences for the exclusively breastfed infant.

      Allen Lab Themes

      The Mothers, Infants, and Lactation Quality Study (MILQ): Developing Reference Values for Nutrients in Human Milk (Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation):The purpose of the MILQ study is to provide Reference Values for micronutrients and other milk constituents based on the range of concentrations analyzed in the milk of well-nourished, un-supplemented women in four countries (Bangladesh, Brazil, Denmark, and The Gambia), from delivery through 8.49 months of lactation. The study will also measure many factors that could affect milk composition, including milk volume and maternal nutrient intake and status, and relationships to infant status and the intestinal microbiome.

      Biomarkers of Vitamin B12 Status:We are using existing samples from intervention studies to assess the effect of B12 status and interventions on (1) a new combined marker of B12 status (cB12); (2) serum metabolites analyzed with metabolomics; (3) B12 concentrations in human milk.

      Improving Public Health by Understanding Diversity in Diet, Body, and Brain Interactions (WHNRC 5-year mission project):The iMAPS Study focuses on (1) comparing metabolic, physiologic, and behavioral responses to consumption of a high quality vs. typical American diet pattern; (2) discovering interrelationships between metabolically important tissues that contribute to metabolic health and energy homeostasis; (3) identifying physiological and psychological processes that influence behavior related to food intake.

      Assessing the Impact of Diet on Inflammation in Healthy and Obese Adults in a Cross-Sectional Phenotyping Study and a Longitudinal Intervention Trial (WHNRC 5-year mission project):The goals of the Phenotyping Study are to (1) determine how diet quality (assessed using the Healthy Eating Index), nutritional status (assessed using biomarkers in a cross-sectional study) and adherence to a diet following Dietary Guidelines recommendations for intake of fat and fat-soluble vitamins affect immune function and inflammation; (2) determine the degree of modulation and the mechanism of activation or inhibition of blood monocytes by different types of dietary fatty acids and by fruit-derived dietary polyphenols or their metabolites; (3) evaluate whether and how the challenge meal-induced monocyte activation is suppressed by docosahexaenoic acid; and (4) whether the diets affect challenge meal-induced monocyte activation.

      Additional current collaborations:

      • Maryanne Perrin (milk B12 in vegetarian and vegan mothers in the USA)

      • Tor Strand (B-vitamins in milk from Norwegian and Nepalese women)

      • Christopher Golden (Madagascar, Darwin Project)

      • Lisa Houghton/Rosalind Gibson (vitamins in milk from Indonesian women)

      • Guy-Marino Hinnouho/Sonja Hess (thiamin, B12, and folate status of children in Laos)


    • ARS Employees

      Setareh Shahab-Ferdows, Nutritionist, Lab Manager

      Dr. Shahab-Ferdows research interests include (a) one carbon metabolism; (b) effects of micronutrient supplementation and fortification; (c) maternal and child nutrition; and (d) breastfeeding practices and breast milk quality. She was involved in the development and validation of the first analysis of vitamin B12 in human milk without the need of time consuming pre-treatment. She serves as Coordinator for the Mothers, Infants and Lactation Quality (MILQ) project.

      Daniela Hampel, Food Chemist, Project Scientist

      Dr. Hampel research focuses on method development for and implementation of micronutrient analyses in human milk and plasma/serum as a tool to assess (a) micronutrient deficiencies in mostly developing countries; (b) adequate micronutrient intake for mothers, human milk status, and infants 0-6 months; (c) relationships between maternal, milk, and infant biomarkers and characteristics; and (d) how maternal treatment or supplementation affect such relationships. She has developed the first simultaneous analysis of several B-vitamins in human milk and established an extended portfolio of micronutrient analyses for the milk matrix in the Allen Lab.

      Zeynep Alkan, Chemist (Support Scientist), Point of collaboration with Lemay Lab

    • Methods and Technique

      The Allen lab uses an array of methods and techniques for biomarker analyses:

      Ultra Performance Liquid Chromatography – tandem Mass Spectrometry:

      • Waters ACQUITY UPLC®I-CLASS coupled to ABSciex Triple Quad 4500

      High Performance Liquid Chromatography – Diode Array Detector/Fluorescence Detector:

      • Agilent 1200 LC-System

      • Agilent 1260 Infinity LC-System

      Inductively Coupled Plasma – Atomic Emission Spectroscopy:

      • Varian Vista AX CCD Simultaneous ICP-AES System

      Competitive Chemiluminescent enzyme immunoassay

      • Siemens IMMULITE® bioanalyzer

      • Roche Cobas® e411 bioanalyzer

      • Roche Cobas Integra® 400 plus bioanalyzer

      SpectraStarTM 2600XT neonatal analyzer (TBD)

      Biomarkers analyzed in the Allen Lab:

      • Fat- and water-soluble vitamins in human milk and plasma

      • Macronutrients in human milk (fat, protein, carbohydrates; TBD)

      • One-carbon metabolites (methyl-malonic acid, total homocysteine)

      • Iron status biomarkers

      • Inflammation biomarkers

      • Selected metabolites (amino acids, biogenic amines, acylcarnitines, glycerophospholipids, sphingolipids) in human milk and plasma (TBD)