(ORDO NEWS) — Scientists have shown that antibodies against the SARS-CoV-2 virus are transmitted to babies with breast milk.
These proteins are able to tolerate passage through the gastrointestinal tract, protecting its cells from infection.
The benefits of breastfeeding have been discussed many times. It can be recalled that it reduces the risk of developing asthma in children and contributes to their cognitive development.
In addition, in 2021, scientists found that the milk of women vaccinated against Covid-19 contains antibodies against this infection.
In new work, the same University of Florida team has shown that these antibodies can be passed on to infants through breastfeeding.
Professor Joseph Larkin and his colleagues analyzed the faeces of 25 babies who were breastfed by mothers vaccinated against Covid-19. Of these, it was indeed possible to isolate antibodies to SARS-CoV-2.
However, it was required to prove that they survived the passage through the gastrointestinal tract and did not lose their immune activity.
To do this, scientists introduced antibodies into cell cultures, on the surface of which there were receptors that served as “entrance gates” for infection with the virus.
Next, a modified SARS-CoV-2 was added to these cells, using the same infection mechanism, but unable to reproduce and safe for experiments in the laboratory.
In addition, upon binding to the receptor, such pseudoviruses form fluorescent complexes that are easy to detect.
Experiments have shown that during pre-treatment with antibodies obtained from infants, fluorescent – and therefore infected – cells turned out to be significantly less than in control experiments.
Therefore, proteins obtained from mother’s milk are really able to protect babies from Covid-19.
First of all, this concerns the cells of the oral cavity and the gastrointestinal tract; it is unlikely that such an effect extends to the lungs, where antibodies from milk do not penetrate.
In addition, the authors of the work compared the amount of antibodies in the blood plasma and breast milk of women shortly after vaccination and six months later.
As might be expected, their concentration decreased markedly over this period, although the ability to neutralize viral particles was still higher than that of unvaccinated mothers.
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