Human milk contains elements that block binding of noroviruses to human histo-blood group antigens in saliva

J Infect Dis. 2004 Nov 15;190(10):1850-9. doi: 10.1086/425159. Epub 2004 Oct 11.


Noroviruses (NVs) recognize human histo-blood group antigens (HBGAs) as receptors. We characterized the interaction of human milk samples with recombinant virus-like particles representing VA387, Norwalk, VA207, and MOH. Milk samples from 60 healthy women were tested for human HBGAs and for their ability to block the binding of NVs. Fifty-four women were secretors (Se+), and 6 were nonsecretors (Se-). No women had detectable A or B antigens in their milk samples. All 54 Se+ milk samples, but 0 of 6 Se- milk samples, blocked VA387 and Norwalk virus (Se+ binders) from binding to saliva samples. All 6 Lewis-positive Se- milk samples blocked binding to VA207, and variable blocking activities were exhibited by the Se+ milk samples. No milk samples blocked the binding of MOH to A and B antigens. Secretor and Lewis, but not A or B antigens, were present in human milk and were responsible for blocking NV binding to receptors and therefore are likely to be decoy receptors that protect breast-fed infants from NV infection.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Blood Group Antigens / metabolism*
  • Caliciviridae Infections / prevention & control
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Mexico
  • Milk, Human / immunology*
  • Norovirus / physiology*
  • Receptors, Virus / metabolism*
  • Saliva / immunology*
  • Saliva / virology
  • Virginia
  • Virus Inactivation


  • Blood Group Antigens
  • Receptors, Virus