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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service


item Wu, F
item Elsasser, Theodore

Submitted to: Journal of The Chinese Agricultural Society
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/15/1994
Publication Date: N/A
Citation: N/A

Interpretive Summary: For centuries the ancient Chinese have prescribed intake of goat milk as a remedy for treatment of disorders of the throat mouth stomach and gut. The nature of the beneficial effects were a mystery because cow milk was without similar effect. The present study described an approach to investigate the beneficial effects of goat milk. Using an experimental design in which specific target cells, in this case mammary cells from the mouse, were grown in culture outside the animal, we used the ability of these cells to proliferate in the presence of growth factors in milk preparations as an index of the content of growth factors in milk. Effects of specific growth factors were deduced by including in the media antibodies against specific growth factors that neutralize the effects of specific factors. The research indicated that a primary factor was epidermal growth factor and that another factor, insulin-like growth factor, was present but minimally active. The data support the notion that many of the beneficial effects of goat milk was mediated through the higher growth factor content of goat milk in comparison to that of cow's milk.

Technical Abstract: The purpose of this study was to investigate the cell growth promoting activity of goat milk as a science foundation to explain its therapeutic functions described in ancient Chinese medicine. Mouse mammary epithelial cells grew in media supplemented with 5% goat milk had 9.6 times increase in tritiated thymidine incorporation into DNA, which was 41% activity of media supplemented with 2% fetal bovine serum. Cow milk had no significant activity detected. Heating of goat milk decreased the cell growth promoting activity, and at the higher temperature, the lower the activity. Heating recombinant mouse epidermal growth factor (EGF) or recombinant human insulin-like growth factor (IGF)-I at 75 C with or without lactose for different time periods also decreased their activities. However, in the presence of 5% lactose, recombinant mouse EGF seemed more resistant to heat denaturation. Anti-mouse EGF antibody decreased proliferative activity in goat milk but the extent was only 4%. In contrast, anti IGF-I,alone or in combination with anti EGF, had no effect on the growth promoting activity of goat milk. This study provided positive support to the concept that beneficial effects of goat milk as used in Chinese medicine may be mediated through the high concentration of growth factors present ant their effects to stimulate gut tissue proliferation.

Last Modified: 06/27/2017
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