Impact of IgG Isotype on the Induction of Antibody-Dependent Cellular Phagocytosis of HIV by Human Milk Leukocytes

Alisa Fox, Xiaomei Liu, Susan Zolla-Pazner, Rebecca L. Powell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Approximately 100,000 mother-to-child transmission (MTCT) events of HIV via human milk feeding occur each year. However, only about 15% of infants milk-fed by untreated HIV+ mothers become infected, suggesting a protective effect of the milk itself. Infants ingest 105-108 maternal leukocytes daily via milk, which remain functional beyond ingestion. Such function may be elicited by maternal milk antibody (Ab). Though IgA is dominant in milk, most HIV-specific milk Abs are of the IgG subclass, highlighting the importance of investigating the function of each IgG isotype in the milk context. Though Ab effector function mediated by the constant (Fc) domain via interaction with Fc Receptors (FcRs), such as Ab-dependent cellular phagocytosis (ADCP), are critical in protecting against HIV infection, ADCP is largely unexplored as it relates to mitigation of MTCT. Presently we report the ADCP activity of milk leukocytes against HIV particles and immune complexes (ICs), using 57 unique samples from 34 women, elicited by IgG1/2/3/4 of monoclonal (m)Ab 246-D. Granulocyte ADCP of HIV was most potent compared to other phagocytes when elicited by IgG1/3/4. IgG1/3 activated granulocytes similarly, exhibiting 1.6x-4.4x greater activity compared to IgG2/4, and a preference for virus compared to ICs. Notably, CD16- monocyte ADCP of a given target were unaffected by isotype, and CD16+ monocytes were poorly stimulated by IgG1. IgG2/4 elicited potent IC ADCP, and in terms of total leukocyte IC ADCP, IgG4 and IgG3 exhibited similar function, with IgG4 eliciting 1.6x-2.1x greater activity compared to IgG1/IgG2, and CD16+ monocytes most stimulated by IgG2. These data contribute to a more comprehensive understanding of Fc-mediated functionality of milk leukocytes, which is critical in order to develop therapeutic approaches to eliminating this route of MTCT, including mucosal administration of mAbs and/or a maternal vaccination aimed to elicit a potent milk Ab response.

Original languageEnglish
Article number831767
JournalFrontiers in Immunology
StatePublished - 3 May 2022


  • ADCP
  • HIV
  • IgG
  • human milk
  • lactation
  • mother-to-child HIV transmission
  • phagocytes
  • phagocytosis


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