Shared bacteria between maternal breast milk and infant stool, infers that transfer of maternal breast milk microbiota through breastfeeding seeds the establishment of the infant gut microbiome. Whether combination antiretroviral therapy (cART) impacts the breast milk microbiota in women living with HIV is unknown. Since current standard of care for people living with HIV includes cART, it has been difficult to evaluate the impact of cART on the microbiome. Here, we performed a next-generation sequencing retrospective study from pre-ART era clinical trials in Nairobi, Kenya (between 2003–2006 before cART was standard of care) that tested the effects of ART regimens to prevent mother-to-child HIV transmission. Kenyan women living with HIV were randomized to receive either no ART during breastfeeding (n = 24) or cART (zidovudine, nevirapine, lamivudine; n = 25) postpartum. Using linear mixed-effects models, we found that alpha diversity and beta diversity of the breast milk bacterial microbiome changed significantly over time during the first 4 weeks postpartum (alpha diversity P, 0.0007; beta diversity P = 0.005). There was no statistically significant difference in diversity, richness, and composition of the bacterial microbiome between cART-exposed and cART-unexposed women. In contrast, antibiotic use influenced the change of beta diversity of the bacterial microbiome over time. Our results indicate that while early postpartum time predicts breast milk microbiome composition, cART does not substantially alter the breast milk microbiota in women living with HIV. Hence, cART has minimal impact on the breast milk microbiome compared to antibiotics use. IMPORTANCE Breastfeeding has important benefits for long-term infant health, particularly in establishing and shaping the infant gut microbiome. However, the impact of combination antiretroviral therapy exposure and antibiotics on the breast milk microbiome in women living with HIV is not known. Here, in a longitudinal retrospective study of Kenyan women living with HIV from the pre-antiretroviral therapy era, we found that antibiotic use significantly influenced breast milk microbiome beta diversity, but antiretrovirals exposure did not substantially alter the microbiome. Given the protective role of breastfeeding in maternal-infant health, these findings fill an important knowledge gap of the impact of combination antiretroviral therapy on the microbiome of women living with HIV.
- breast milk microbiome
- combination antiretroviral therapy
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Immunology and Microbiology(all)
- Microbiology (medical)
- Cell Biology
- Infectious Diseases