Human Milk Oligosaccharides Enhance Innate Immunity to Respiratory Syncytial Virus and Influenza in Vitro


Human milk oligosaccharides (HMO) contribute to innate immunity by enhancing growth of beneficial bacteria, epithelial cell maturation and mucosal barrier integrity. They have immunomodulatory effects and can block pathogen binding to host cell surface glycans or receptors. We investigated the effects of 2’-fucosyllactose (2’FL), 6’-sialyllactose (6’SL), 3’-sialyllactose (3’SL) and lacto-N-neoTetraose (LNnT) on human respiratory epithelial cell lines or peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) following respiratory viral infectionin vitro. Expression of cytokines and viral load were monitored in infected cells. These biomarkers of innate immunity were selected since viral load and cytokine levels (IP-10, MIP-1α, IL-6, IL-8, TNF-α) have been correlated with disease severity in respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and influenza (IAV) virus infectionin vivo. 2’FL significantly decreased RSV viral load and cytokines associated with disease severity (IL-6, IL-8, MIP-1α) and inflammation (TNF-α, MCP-1) in airway epithelial cells. LNnT and 6’SL significantly decreased IAV viral load in airway epithelial cells. 6’SL dose-dependently down-regulated IP-10 and TNF-α in RSV infected PBMCs. HMO at or below levels found in breast milk enhance innate immunity to respiratory viruses in vitro and may interact directly with cells to modulate biomarkers of innate immunity.

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Duska-McEwen, G. , Senft, A. , Ruetschilling, T. , Barrett, E. and Buck, R. (2014) Human Milk Oligosaccharides Enhance Innate Immunity to Respiratory Syncytial Virus and Influenza in Vitro. Food and Nutrition Sciences, 5, 1387-1398. doi: 10.4236/fns.2014.514151.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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