Submitted to: Encyclopedia of Dairy Science
Publication Type: Review Article
Publication Acceptance Date: October 3, 2001
Publication Date: January 1, 2003
Citation: Akers, R., Capuco, A.V. 2003. Lactogenesis. In: Roginski, H., Fuquay, J.W., Fox, P.F., editors. Encyclopedia of Dairy Science. London: Academic Press. p. 1442-1446.
Other than bottle-fed humans and dairy calves, the success of reproduction depends on more than the birth of healthy offspring. For mammals, initiation of milk synthesis and secretion is essential for successful rearing of the neonate and ultimately reproduction. Development of the mammary gland during gestation allows generation of abundant alveolar secretory cells. The subsequent differentiation of these cells to allow onset of milk synthesis and secretion in conjunction with parturition is indeed a biological marvel. Milk of all mammals contains variable amounts of proteins, carbohydrates and fats in an aqueous medium. Although there are marked species differences with regard to details of milk composition, having the birth of the neonate and functionality of the mammary gland coincide is obviously critical. The purpose of this article is to provide an overview of final stages of gestational mammary development and especially the dramatic, acute changes in secretory cell structure and function as the gland prepares for onset of copious milk secretion called lactogenesis.