Extracellular Vesicles in Human Preterm Colostrum Inhibit Infection by Human Cytomegalovirus In Vitro

Manuela Donalisio, Simona Cirrincione, Massimo Rittà, Cristina Lamberti, Andrea Civra, Rachele Francese, Paola Tonetto, Stefano Sottemano, Marcello Manfredi, Annalisa Lorenzato, Guido E Moro, Marzia Giribaldi, Laura Cavallarin, Maria Gabriella Giuffrida, Enrico Bertino, Alessandra Coscia, David Lembo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Breast milk is a complex biofluid that nourishes infants, supports their growth and protects them from diseases. However, at the same time, breastfeeding is a transmission route for human cytomegalovirus (HCMV), with preterm infants being at a great risk of congenital disease. The discrepancy between high HCMV transmission rates and the few reported cases of infants with severe clinical illness is likely due to the protective effect of breast milk. The aim of this study was to investigate the anti-HCMV activity of human preterm colostrum and clarify the role of colostrum-derived extracellular vesicles (EVs). Preterm colostrum samples were collected and the EVs were purified and characterized. The in vitro anti-HCMV activity of both colostrum and EVs was tested against HCMV, and the viral replication step inhibited by colostrum-purified EVs was examined. We investigated the putative role EV surface proteins play in impairing HCMV infection using shaving experiments and proteomic analysis. The obtained results confirmed the antiviral action of colostrum against HCMV and demonstrated a remarkable antiviral activity of colostrum-derived EVs. Furthermore, we demonstrated that EVs impair the attachment of HCMV to cells, with EV surface proteins playing a role in mediating this action. These findings contribute to clarifying the mechanisms that underlie the protective role of human colostrum against HCMV infection.

Original languageEnglish
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jul 21 2020


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