Submitted to: Encyclopedia of Animal Science
Publication Type: Review Article
Publication Acceptance Date: December 8, 2003
Publication Date: January 10, 2004
Citation: Capuco, A.V., Ellis, S. 2004. The mammary gland: developmental changes. In:Encyclopedia of Animal Science. W. Pond and A. Bell, editors. Marcel Dekker, New York. pp. 603-605.
The mammary gland progresses from an accumulation of a few cells in the embryonic ectoderm to a highly arborescent ductular-alveolar gland capable of secreting a highly nutritious product for consumption. Throughout this progression, various changes occur during each developmental stage: prenatal, prepubertal, pubertal, gestational, lactational, and mammary involution. This article reviews the general anatomy of the mammary gland and developmental changes that occur during the reproductive life of an animal. Understanding the general anatomy of the mammary gland and developmental changes that occur during the reproductive life of an animal is critical to appreciating the hormonal regulation and productive potential of the mammary gland. This understanding is important for developing management schemes to maximize production efficiency and enhance animal health. The ability to promote mammary development has positive implications on milk yield for human consumption and for enhancing growth of the offspring of meat producing animals. The ability to lengthen the duration of lactation and to shorten the dry period can enhance lifetime milk production, with the added advantage that animals will need to produce offspring less frequently and therefore be at reduced risk of parturition-related diseases. The mammary gland with its postnatal development, and cyclical periods of growth, lactation and involution, provides an exciting area for biological investigation.