BACKGROUND: Rotavirus is a major cause of infectious diarrhea in infants and young children. Several studies have shown that hyperimmune bovine colostrum, derived from cows immunized with rotavirus, can prevent rotavirus diarrhea when given passively. The objective of this study was to determine whether colostral antibody activity survived transit through the gut by measuring the level of rotavirus antibody activity in the feces.
METHODS: Hyperimmune colostrum containing different levels of rotavirus antibody was administered to 105 children attending nine Adelaide childcare centres. Subjects were asked to drink 100 ml of whole milk supplemented with colostrum 3 times a day, for a period of 6 days. Stool samples were collected from the subjects before, during, and after consumption of the study product. Rotavirus activity was determined using a novel virus reduction enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) and a virus neutralization assay.
RESULTS: Rotavirus antibody activity was detected in 521 (86%) of 602 fecal specimens obtained during the study using the virus reduction ELISA. The antibody activity was detected as early as 8 hours after ingestion of hyperimmune colostrum and up to 72 hours after consumption had ceased. There was a strong relation (r = 0.81) between the titer of rotavirus antibody administered to subjects and the level of antibody activity detected in the feces.
CONCLUSIONS: The results show that antirotavirus activity survived passage through the gut. Therefore, passive immunotherapy may be used to prevent or treat infectious diseases that affect the entire length of the gastrointestinal tract.
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