Mother-to-baby transfer of humoral immunity against retrovirus-induced neurologic disorders and immunodeficiency

Virology. 1994 Jan;198(1):129-37. doi: 10.1006/viro.1994.1015.


Neonatal FVB/N mice inoculated with ts1, a temperature-sensitive mutant of Moloney murine leukemia virus TB, developed fatal immunodeficiencies and neurologic disorders. In this study, we tested the role of transfer of maternal humoral immunity in preventing ts1-induced disease syndrome in the neonatal mice. We compared the levels of protection provided through maternal antibodies both pre- and postnatally by separating infected neonatal mice into four different groups. The first group was born of and nursed by nonimmune mothers, the second was born of immune mothers but nursed by nonimmune mothers, the third was born of nonimmune mothers but nursed by immune mothers, and the fourth was born of and nursed by immune mothers. Our major findings are: (1) adult mice generate a strong antiviral antibody response; (2) maternal antibody is protective for the newborns and primarily transferred by breast milk; (3) virus titers were cleared in the periphery and the CNS of neonates nursing on immune mothers; and (4) the majority of antiviral antibody generated was specific for the gp70. These results indicate that humoral immunity can be passed efficiently from mother to baby through breast milk and can provide strong protection against neurotropic retrovirus.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn / immunology
  • Antibodies, Viral / biosynthesis*
  • Antibodies, Viral / blood
  • Female
  • Immunity, Maternally-Acquired / immunology*
  • Immunization, Passive
  • Maternal-Fetal Exchange / immunology*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred Strains
  • Moloney murine leukemia virus / growth & development
  • Moloney murine leukemia virus / immunology*
  • Murine Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome / immunology*
  • Murine Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome / microbiology
  • Nervous System Diseases / immunology*
  • Nervous System Diseases / microbiology
  • Pregnancy
  • Retroviridae Infections / immunology*
  • Viral Envelope Proteins / immunology


  • Antibodies, Viral
  • Viral Envelope Proteins