Human milk inhibits some enveloped virus infections, including SARS-CoV-2, in an intestinal model

Ikrame Aknouch, Adithya Sridhar*, Eline Freeze, Francesca Paola Giugliano, Britt J. van Keulen, Michelle Romijn, Carlemi Calitz, Inés García-Rodríguez, Lance Mulder, Manon E. Wildenberg, Vanesa Muncan, Marit J. van Gils, Johannes B. van Goudoever, Koert J. Stittelaar, Katja C. Wolthers, Dasja Pajkrt*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Human milk is important for antimicrobial defense in infants and has well demonstrated antiviral activity. We evaluated the protective ability of human milk against severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection in a human fetal intestinal cell culture model. We found that, in this model, human milk blocks SARS-CoV-2 replication, irrespective of the presence of SARS-CoV-2 spike-specific antibodies. Complete inhibition of both enveloped Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus and human respiratory syncytial virus infections was also observed, whereas no inhibition of non-enveloped enterovirus A71 infection was seen. Transcriptome analysis after 24 h of the intestinal monolayers treated with human milk showed large transcriptomic changes from human milk treatment, and subsequent analysis suggested that ATP1A1 down-regulation by milk might be of importance. Inhibition of ATP1A1 blocked SARS-CoV-2 infection in our intestinal model, whereas no effect on EV-A71 infection was seen. Our data indicate that human milk has potent antiviral activity against particular (enveloped) viruses by potentially blocking the ATP1A1-mediated endocytic process.

Original languageEnglish
JournalLife Science Alliance
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 4 Aug 2022


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