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Human Milk from Previously COVID-19-Infected Mothers: The Effect of Pasteurization on Specific Antibodies and Neutralization Capacity

Department of Pediatrics, Amsterdam UMC, Vrije Universiteit, University of Amsterdam Emma Children’s Hospital, 1105 AZ Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Biomolecular Mass Spectrometry and Proteomics, Bijvoet Center for Biomolecular Research and Utrecht Institute for Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Utrecht, 3584 CH Utrecht, The Netherlands
Netherlands Proteomics Center, Padualaan 8, 3584 CH Utrecht, The Netherlands
Food Quality & Design Group, Wageningen University and Research, 6708 WG Wageningen, The Netherlands
Department of Medical Microbiology, Amsterdam UMC, University of Amsterdam, 1105 AZ Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Division Infectious Diseases & Immunology/Laboratory of Virology, Department Biomolecular Health Sciences, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Utrecht University, Yalelaan 1, 3584 CL Utrecht, The Netherlands
Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Amsterdam UMC, Vrije Universiteit, 1081 HV Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Department of Microbiology and Immunolgy, Weill Medical College of Cornell University, 1300 York Avenue, New York, NY 10065, USA
Wageningen Food & Biobased Research, Wageningen University and Research, P.O. Box 17, 6700 AA Wageningen, The Netherlands
Department of Experimental Immunohematology, Sanquin Research, Landsteiner Laboratory, Amsterdam UMC, University of Amsterdam, P.O. Box 9190, 1006 AD Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Viroclinics Xplore, Viroclinics Biosciences B.V., Nistelrooise Baan 3, 5374 RE Schaijk, The Netherlands
Department of Immunopathology, Sanquin Research & Landsteiner Laboratory Academic Medical Centre, 1081 HV Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
These authors contributed equally to this work.
Academic Editor: Valerie B. Duffy
Nutrients 2021, 13(5), 1645;
Received: 6 April 2021 / Revised: 2 May 2021 / Accepted: 11 May 2021 / Published: 13 May 2021
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Nutrition in Early Life and Health Outcome)
Background: Since the outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), many put their hopes in the rapid availability of effective immunizations. Human milk, containing antibodies against syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), may serve as means of protection through passive immunization. We aimed to determine the presence and pseudovirus neutralization capacity of SARS-CoV-2 specific IgA in human milk of mothers who recovered from COVID-19, and the effect of pasteurization on these antibodies. Methods: This prospective case control study included lactating mothers, recovered from (suspected) COVID-19 and healthy controls. Human milk and serum samples were collected. To assess the presence of SARS-CoV-2 antibodies we used multiple complementary assays, namely ELISA with the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein (specific for IgA and IgG), receptor binding domain (RBD) and nucleocapsid (N) protein for IgG in serum, and bridging ELISA with the SARS-CoV-2 RBD and N protein for specific Ig (IgG, IgM and IgA in human milk and serum). To assess the effect of pasteurization, human milk was exposed to Holder (HoP) and High Pressure Pasteurization (HPP). Results: Human milk contained abundant SARS-CoV-2 antibodies in 83% of the proven cases and in 67% of the suspected cases. Unpasteurized milk with and without these antibodies was found to be capable of neutralizing a pseudovirus of SARS-CoV-2 in (97% and 85% of the samples respectively). After pasteurization, total IgA antibody levels were affected by HoP, while SARS-CoV-2 specific antibody levels were affected by HPP. Pseudovirus neutralizing capacity of the human milk samples was only retained with the HPP approach. No correlation was observed between milk antibody levels and neutralization capacity. Conclusions: Human milk from recovered COVID-19-infected mothers contains SARS-CoV-2 specific antibodies which maintained neutralization capacity after HPP. All together this may represent a safe and effective immunization strategy after HPP. View Full-Text
Keywords: immunoglobulins; pasteurization; COVID-19; breastfeeding immunoglobulins; pasteurization; COVID-19; breastfeeding
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MDPI and ACS Style

van Keulen, B.J.; Romijn, M.; Bondt, A.; Dingess, K.A.; Kontopodi, E.; van der Straten, K.; den Boer, M.A.; Burger, J.A.; Poniman, M.; Bosch, B.J.; Brouwer, P.J.M.; de Groot, C.J.M.; Hoek, M.; Li, W.; Pajkrt, D.; Sanders, R.W.; Schoonderwoerd, A.; Tamara, S.; Timmermans, R.A.H.; Vidarsson, G.; Stittelaar, K.J.; Rispens, T.T.; Hettinga, K.A.; van Gils, M.J.; Heck, A.J.R.; van Goudoever, J.B. Human Milk from Previously COVID-19-Infected Mothers: The Effect of Pasteurization on Specific Antibodies and Neutralization Capacity. Nutrients 2021, 13, 1645.

AMA Style

van Keulen BJ, Romijn M, Bondt A, Dingess KA, Kontopodi E, van der Straten K, den Boer MA, Burger JA, Poniman M, Bosch BJ, Brouwer PJM, de Groot CJM, Hoek M, Li W, Pajkrt D, Sanders RW, Schoonderwoerd A, Tamara S, Timmermans RAH, Vidarsson G, Stittelaar KJ, Rispens TT, Hettinga KA, van Gils MJ, Heck AJR, van Goudoever JB. Human Milk from Previously COVID-19-Infected Mothers: The Effect of Pasteurization on Specific Antibodies and Neutralization Capacity. Nutrients. 2021; 13(5):1645.

Chicago/Turabian Style

van Keulen, Britt J., Michelle Romijn, Albert Bondt, Kelly A. Dingess, Eva Kontopodi, Karlijn van der Straten, Maurits A. den Boer, Judith A. Burger, Meliawati Poniman, Berend J. Bosch, Philip J. M. Brouwer, Christianne J. M. de Groot, Max Hoek, Wentao Li, Dasja Pajkrt, Rogier W. Sanders, Anne Schoonderwoerd, Sem Tamara, Rian A. H. Timmermans, Gestur Vidarsson, Koert J. Stittelaar, Theo T. Rispens, Kasper A. Hettinga, Marit J. van Gils, Albert J. R. Heck, and Johannes B. van Goudoever. 2021. "Human Milk from Previously COVID-19-Infected Mothers: The Effect of Pasteurization on Specific Antibodies and Neutralization Capacity" Nutrients 13, no. 5: 1645.

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