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J Dairy Sci. 2007 Jan;90(1):66-74.

Inhibitory activities of bovine macromolecular whey proteins on rotavirus infections in vitro and in vivo.

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  • 1Protein Chemistry Laboratory, University of Aarhus, 8000 Aarhus C, Denmark.


Rotavirus is a major cause of infantile viral gastroenteritis and can lead to severe and sometimes lethal dehydration. Previous studies have shown that breast-fed children are better protected against symptomatic infections, and that the milk fat globule protein lactadherin might be at least partly responsible for this effect. In vitro studies have shown that human lactadherin, in contrast to the bovine ortholog, could inhibit rotavirus infectivity, and that bovine MUC1 and a commercially available bovine macromolecular whey protein (MMWP) fraction proved to be effective. The present work describes the versatility of MMWP against the infection of 2 human intestinal cell lines (Caco-2 and FHs 74 Int) by 4 different rotavirus strains (Wa, RRV, YM, RF). Isolation of a protein fraction (CM3Q3) from MMWP that effectively inhibits rotavirus infectivity in vitro is documented. Purification was achieved by monitoring the rotaviral inhibitory activity in fractions obtained from 2 consecutive steps of ion-exchange chromatography. The major component of CM3Q3 was shown to be bovine IgG, and the attenuating capacity of this fraction is most properly linked to this component. The capacity of MMWP, MUC1, lactadherin, and the CM3Q3 fraction to inhibit the infectivity of the murine EMcN rotavirus strain was analyzed in adult BALB/c mice by using 2 different amounts of virus (10 and 100 times more than 50% the viral shedding doses). Only CM3Q3 was able to significantly affect the shedding of rotavirus in the stools of experimentally infected mice when the high viral dose was given. Detection of rotavirus-specific serum antibodies showed that the high dose infected all groups of mice. Experiments with the low dose of virus implied that all the tested milk proteins could affect the viral shedding in stools; in addition, use of MUC1, MMWP, and CM3Q3 prevented the appearance of serum viral antibodies. The advantages of using bovine immunoglobulins to induce passive immunity against rotavirus have been substantially investigated, although studies have mainly focused on the use of derivatives from immunized cows, especially colostrum. This report associates considerable activity against rotavirus infectivity with an ordinary whey product, suggesting that there might be alternatives to colostral-derived products.

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