Consideration 33 - Whose Got Antivirals?

Is infant formula use infant abuse?

Let’s consider the problem of viruses. “ Antiviral drugs are a class of medication used specifically for treating viral infections.[1] Like antibiotics for bacteria, specific antivirals are used for specific viruses. Unlike most antibiotics, antiviral drugs do not destroy their target pathogen; instead they inhibit their development.” Wikipedia

Milk Matters: Soluble Toll-Like Receptor 2 (sTLR2) in Breast Milk Significantly Inhibits HIV-1 Infection and Inflammation

Bethany M. Henrick,1 Kakon Nag,1 Xiao-Dan Yao,1 Anna G. Drannik,1 Grace M. Aldrovandi,2 and Kenneth L. Rosenthal1,*

1McMaster Immunology Research Centre, Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research, Department of Pathology and Molecular Medicine, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

2Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, Saban Research Institute, Departments of Pediatrics and Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Los Angeles, California, United States of America

University of Cape Town, South Africa

* E-mail: ac.retsamcm@lhtnesor

Conceived and designed the experiments: BMH KN XDY KLR. Performed the experiments: BMH KN XDY. Analyzed the data: BMH KN XDY AD. Contributed reagents/materials/analysis tools: GMA. Wrote the paper: BMH KN KLR.


Received 2012 Apr 3; Accepted 2012 Jun 1.

Copyright Henrick et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.




The majority of infants who breastfeed from their HIV-positive mothers remain uninfected despite constant and repeated exposure to virus over weeks to years. This phenomenon is not fully understood but has been closely linked to innate factors in breast milk (BM). The majority of infants who breastfeed from their HIV-positive mothers remain uninfected despite constant and repeated exposure to virus over weeks to years. Most recently we have focused on one such innate factor, soluble Toll-like receptor 2 (sTLR2) for its significant contribution as an inhibitor of inflammation triggered by bacterial and viral antigens.”

Tenascin-C is an innate broad-spectrum, HIV-1–neutralizing protein in breast milk

  1. Genevieve G. Foudaa,
  2. Frederick H. Jaegera,
  3. Joshua D. Amosa,
  4. Carrie Hoa,
  5. Erika L. Kunza,
  6. Kara Anastia,
  7. Lisa W. Stampera,
  8. Brooke E. Liebla,
  9. Kimberly H. Barbasb,
  10. Tomoo Ohashic,
  11. Martin Arthur Moseleyd,
  12. Hua-Xin Liaoa,
  13. Harold P. Ericksonc,
  14. Munir Alama,1, and
  15. Sallie R. Permara,e,1,2

“Interestingly, in the absence of antiretroviral prophylaxis, greater than 90% of infants exposed to HIV-1 via breastfeeding remain uninfected, despite daily mucosal exposure to the virus for up to 2 y. Moreover, milk of uninfected women inherently neutralizes HIV-1 and prevents virus transmission in animal models, yet the factor(s) responsible for this anti-HIV activity is not well-defined. In this report, we identify a primary HIV-1–neutralizing protein in breast milk, Tenascin-C (TNC). TNC is an extracellular matrix protein important in fetal development and wound healing, yet its antimicrobial properties have not previously been established. Purified TNC captured and neutralized multiclade chronic and transmitted/founder HIV-1 variants, and depletion of TNC abolished the HIV-1–neutralizing activity of milk. TNC bound the HIV-1 Envelope protein at a site that is induced upon engagement of its primary receptor, CD4, and is blocked by V3 loop- (19B and F39F) and chemokine coreceptor binding site-directed (17B) monoclonal antibodies. Our results demonstrate the ability of an innate mucosal host protein found in milk to neutralize HIV-1 via binding to the chemokine coreceptor site, potentially explaining why the majority of HIV-1–exposed breastfed infants are protected against mucosal HIV-1 transmission.”

Here we have at least two effective antivirals in breastmilk. Wouldn’t it be better to have antivirals in a human milk substitute?