Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Division of Maternal-Fetal Medicine; School of Medicine
Immunology and Infectious Disease | Infectious Disease | Maternal and Child Health | Obstetrics and Gynecology | Virus Diseases
Background: Colostrum provides an immune sharing between a mother and her infant. The transfer in colostrum of antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 and the elicited cytokines may provide crucial protection to the infant. There is limited literature on the immune response to SARS-CoV-2 present in colostrum.
Objective: To evaluate the presence of antibodies specific to SARS-CoV-2 and the associated cytokines in colostrum from women who tested positive for the virus.
Study Design: Between March and September 2020 we obtained bilateral colostrum samples collected on spot cards within 48 hours of delivery from 15 new mothers who had previously tested positive for SARS-CoV-2. Five of these 15 COVID-19 positive women also provided bilateral liquid colostrum within 1-2 days of providing the spot card samples. Archived bilateral colostrum samples collected from 8 women during 2011-2013 were used as pre-COVID-19 controls. All samples were tested for reactivity to the Receptor Binding Domain (RBD) of the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein using an ELISA that measures SARS-CoV-2 RBD-specific IgA, IgG, and IgM, and for concentrations of 10 inflammatory cytokines (IFNγ, TNFα, IL-1β, IL-2, IL-4, IL-6, IL-8, IL-10, IL-12, IL-13) using a multiplex electrochemiluminescent sandwich assay.
Results: Bilateral colostrum samples from 73%, 73% and 33% of the 15 COVID-19 mothers exhibited IgA, IgG, and IgM reactivity to RBD respectively. Colostrum samples from two of the 8 pre-pandemic controls showed IgA and IgG reactivity to RBD. Additionally, COVID-19 mothers had significantly higher levels of 9 of the 10 inflammatory markers (all except IFNγ) as compared to the pre-COVID-19 controls. Comparable results were obtained with both the spot card-eluates and liquid samples.
Conclusions: A strong humoral immune response is present in the colostrum of women who were infected with SARS-CoV-2 before delivering. High levels of 9 inflammatory markers were also present in the colostrum. The evolution and duration of the antibody response, as well as dynamics of the cytokine response, remain to be determined. Our results also indicate that future large-scale studies can be conducted with milk easily collected on paper spot cards.
Obstetrics and Gynecology, colostrum, immune response, infants, SARS-CoV-2, COVID-19
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DOI of Published Version
medRxiv 2021.01.03.20248715; doi: https://doi.org/10.1101/2021.01.03.20248715. Link to preprint on medRxiv.
Narayanaswamy V, Pentecost B, Alfandari D, Chin E, Minor K, Kastrinakis A, Lieberman T, Arcaro KF, Leftwich H. (2021). Humoral and cell-mediated response in colostrum after exposure to severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 [preprint]. University of Massachusetts Medical School Faculty Publications. https://doi.org/10.1101/2021.01.03.20248715. Retrieved from https://escholarship.umassmed.edu/faculty_pubs/1876
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