Skip to main content
ARS Home » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #139216


item Capuco, Anthony
item Ellis, S
item Hale, S
item Long, E
item Erdman, R
item Zhao, X
item Paape, Max

Submitted to: Journal of Animal Science
Publication Type: Review Article
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/16/2003
Publication Date: 1/16/2003
Citation: Capuco, A.V., Ellis, S.E., Hale, S.A., Long, E., Erdman, R.A., Zhao, X., Paape, M.J. 2003. Lactation persistency: insights from mammary cell proliferation studies. Journal of Animal Science, 81, Supp. 3, pp.18-31.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: A persistent lactation is dependent upon maintaining number and activity of milk secreting cells with advancing lactation. When dairy cows are milked twice daily, the increase in milk yield from parturition to peak lactation is due to increased secretory activity per cell, rather than to accretion of additional epithelial cells. After peak lactation, declining milk yield is due to loss of mammary epithelial cells by apoptosis. During lactation, only 0.3% of mammary cells proliferate in a 24-h period. Yet this proliferative rate is sufficient to replace most mammary epithelial cells by the end of lactation. Management practices can influence lactation persistency. Administration of bovine somatotropin may enhance persistency by increasing cell proliferation and turnover, or by reducing the rate of apoptosis. Increased photoperiod may also increase persistency of lactation by mechanisms that are as yet undefined. Increased milking frequency during the first weeks of lactation increases milk yield, even after return to less frequent milking, with increases of ~8% over the entire lactation. A mammary cell proliferation response to frequent milking during early lactation appears to be involved. Conversely, advanced pregnancy, infrequent milking, and mastitis increase death of epithelial cells by apoptosis. Regulation of mammary cell renewal provides a key to increasing persistency. Investigations to characterize epithelial cells that serve as the proliferative population in the bovine mammary gland have been initiated. Epithelial cells that stain lightly in histological sections are evident through all phases of mammary development and secretion, and account for nearly all proliferation in the prepubertal gland. Characterization of these cells may provide a means to regulate mammary cell proliferation and thus to enhance persistency, reduce the effects of mastitis, and decrease the necessity for a dry period.