Milk Oligosaccharides Inhibit Human Rotavirus Infectivity in MA104 Cells

J Nutr. 2017 Sep;147(9):1709-1714. doi: 10.3945/jn.116.246090. Epub 2017 Jun 21.


Background: Oligosaccharides in milk act as soluble decoy receptors and prevent pathogen adhesion to the infant gut. Milk oligosaccharides reduce infectivity of a porcine rotavirus strain; however, the effects on human rotaviruses are less well understood.Objective: In this study, we determined the effect of specific and abundant milk oligosaccharides on the infectivity of 2 globally dominant human rotavirus strains.Methods: Four milk oligosaccharides-2'-fucosyllactose (2'FL), 3'-sialyllactose (3'SL), 6'-sialyllactose (6'SL), and galacto-oligosaccharides-were tested for their effects on the infectivity of human rotaviruses G1P[8] and G2P[4] through fluorescent focus assays on African green monkey kidney epithelial cells (MA104 cells). Oligosaccharides were added at different time points in the infectivity assays. Infections in the absence of oligosaccharides served as controls.Results: When compared with infections in the absence of glycans, all oligosaccharides substantially reduced the infectivity of both human rotavirus strains in vitro; however, virus strain-specific differences in effects were observed. Compared with control infections, the maximum reduction in G1P[8] infectivity was seen with 2'FL when added after the onset of infection (62% reduction, P < 0.01), whereas the maximum reduction in G2P[4] infectivity was seen with the mixture of 3'SL + 6'SL when added during infection (73% reduction, P < 0.01). The mixture of 3'SL + 6'SL at the same ratio as is present in breast milk was more potent in reducing G2P[4] infectivity (73% reduction, P < 0.01) than when compared with 3'SL (47% reduction) or 6'SL (40% reduction) individually. For all oligosaccharides the reduction in infectivity was mediated by an effect on the virus and not on the cells.Conclusions: Milk oligosaccharides reduce the infectivity of human rotaviruses in MA104 cells, primarily through an effect on the virus. Although breastfed infants are directly protected, the addition of specific oligosaccharides to infant formula may confer these benefits to formula-fed infants.

Keywords: 2′-fucosyllactose; decoy receptors; human milk oligosaccharides; infection; rotavirus; sialoglycans.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Line
  • Chlorocebus aethiops
  • Humans
  • Milk / chemistry*
  • Milk, Human / chemistry
  • Oligosaccharides / pharmacology
  • Oligosaccharides / therapeutic use*
  • Rotavirus / classification
  • Rotavirus / drug effects*
  • Rotavirus / pathogenicity
  • Rotavirus Infections / prevention & control*
  • Rotavirus Infections / virology
  • Species Specificity


  • Oligosaccharides