HPTN Bibliographic Record

Fouda GG, Yates NL, Pollara J, Shen X, Overman GR, Mahlokozera T, Wilks AB, Kang HH, Salazar-Gonzalez JF, Salazar MG, Kalilani L, Meshnick SR, Hahn BH, Shaw GM, Lovingood RV, Denny TN, Haynes B, Letvin NL, Ferrari G, Montefiori DC, Tomaras GD, Permar SR. HIV-specific functional antibody responses in breast milk mirror those in plasma and are primarily mediated by IgG antibodies. J of Virol. 2011, 85: 9555-67 PMCID: 3165739.
Despite months of mucosal virus exposure, the majority of breastfed infants born to HIV-infected mothers do not become infected, raising the possibility that immune factors in milk inhibit mucosal transmission of HIV. HIV Envelope (Env)-specific antibodies are present in the milk of HIV-infected mothers, but little is known about their virus-specific functions. In this study, HIV Env-specific antibody binding, autologous and heterologous virus neutralization, and antibody-dependent cell cytotoxicity (ADCC) responses were measured in the milk and plasma of 41 HIV-infected lactating women. Although IgA is the predominant antibody isotype in milk, HIV Env-specific IgG responses were higher in magnitude than HIV Env-specific IgA responses in milk. The concentrations of anti-HIV gp120 IgG in milk and plasma were directly correlated (r = 0.75; P < 0.0001), yet the response in milk was 2 logarithm units lower than in plasma. Similarly, heterologous virus neutralization (r = 0.39; P = 0.010) and ADCC activity (r = 0.64; P < 0.0001) in milk were directly correlated with that in the systemic compartment but were 2 log units lower in magnitude. Autologous neutralization was rarely detected in milk. Milk heterologous virus neutralization titers correlated with HIV gp120 Env-binding IgG responses but not with IgA responses (r = 0.71 and P < 0.0001, and r = 0.17 and P = 0.30). Moreover, IgGs purified from milk and plasma had equal neutralizing potencies against a tier 1 virus (r = 0.65; P < 0.0001), whereas only 1 out of 35 tested non-IgG milk fractions had detectable neutralization. These results suggest that plasma-derived IgG antibodies mediate the majority of the low-level HIV neutralization and ADCC activity in breast milk.