The effect of some antibacterial compounds present in human milk were tested for antiviral activity against respiratory syncytial virus, Semliki Forest virus and cytomegalovirus. These included the gangliosides GM1, GM2 and GM3, sialyl-lactose, lactoferrin and chondroitin sulphate A, B and C, which were all tested for their ability to inhibit the viruses in cell culture. Of the compounds tested, only the ganglioside GM2, chondroitin sulphate B and lactoferrin inhibited the absorption and growth of respiratory syncytial virus in cell culture, and none inhibited the growth of Semliki Forest virus, indicating that lipid antiviral activity was not associated with any of the gangliosides. While the concentrations of these two compounds required to inhibit respiratory syncytial virus were in excess of those present in human milk, sialyl-lactose concentrations similar to those present in human milk increased the growth of cytomegalovirus. Lactoferrin was confirmed as inhibiting both respiratory syncytial virus and cytomegalovirus growth in culture even when used at lower concentrations than those present in human milk. The antiviral activities of GM2, chondroitin sulphate B and lactoferrin were tested when added to an infant formula. Lactoferrin continued to have antiviral activity against cytomegalovirus, but a lower activity against respiratory syncytial virus; ganglioside GM2 and chondroitin sulphate B still maintained antiviral activity against respiratory syncytial virus.


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