HIV-1 reservoirs in breast milk and challenges to elimination of breast-feeding transmission of HIV-1.
By compensating for the relative immaturity of the neonatal immune system, breast milk and breast-feeding prevent deaths in children. Nevertheless, transmission of HIV-1 through breast-feeding is responsible for more than half of new pediatric HIV infections. Recent studies of possible HIV-1 reservoirs in breast milk shed new light on features that influence HIV-1 transmission through breast-feeding. The particular characteristics of breast milk CD4(+) T cells that distinguish them from circulating blood lymphocytes (high frequency of cell activation and expression of memory and mucosal homing markers) facilitate the establishment of HIV-1 replication. Breast milk also contains a plethora of factors with anti-infectious, immunomodulatory, or anti-inflammatory properties that can regulate both viral replication and infant susceptibility. In addition, CD8(+) T lymphocytes, macrophages, and epithelial cells in breast milk can alter the dynamics of HIV-1 transmission. Even during efficient antiretroviral therapy, a residual stable, CD4(+) T cell-associated reservoir of HIV-1 is persistently present in breast milk, a likely source of infection. Only prophylactic treatment in infants--ideally with a long-acting drug, administered for the entire duration of breast-feeding--is likely to protect HIV-exposed babies against all forms of HIV transmission from breast milk, including cell-to-cell viral transfer.
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SourceScience translational medicine 4:143 2012 Jul 18 pg 143sr3
Infectious Disease Transmission, Vertical
Pub Type(s)Journal Article
Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't