Aims: Several studies have recently reported the detection of oncogenic human papillomaviruses (HPV) in human milk of a minority of lactating mothers. These findings raised safety concerns in the context of human donor milk banking given the potential risk of HPV transmission to recipient infants. The aim of this study was to investigate whether the Holder pasteurization, a procedure currently in use in human donor milk banks for milk pasteurization, completely inactivates high-risk and low-risk HPV.
Methods: HPV pseudoviruses (PsV) were generated, spiked into cell culture medium or donor human milk and subjected to thermal inactivation. HPV PsV infectivity and morphological integrity was analyzed by cell-based assay and by electron microscopy, respectively.
Results: The Holder pasteurization completely inactivated the infectivity of high-risk (types 16 and 18) and low-risk (type 6) HPV both in cell culture medium and in human milk causing PsV particle disassembly.
Conclusions: The results presented here indicate that the Holder pasteurization is an efficient procedure to inactivate high-risk and low-risk HPV thus preventing the potential risk of their transmission through human donor milk.