3 years ago

Mammary epithelium disruption and mammary epithelial cell exfoliation during milking in dairy cows

The presence of mammary epithelial cells (MEC) in the milk of ruminants indicates that some MEC are shed from the mammary epithelium; however, the mechanisms that regulate the MEC exfoliation process are not known. Through the release of oxytocin, prolactin, and cortisol and through oxytocin-induced mechanical forces on the mammary epithelium, milking could participate in regulating the MEC exfoliation process. The aims of the present study were to determine the rate of MEC exfoliation throughout milking and to investigate its relationship to mammary epithelium integrity and milking-induced hormone release. Milk samples from 9 Holstein dairy cows producing 40.6 ± 1.36 kg of milk/d were collected at the beginning (after 1 and 2 min), in the middle, and at the end of milking. Milk MEC were purified using an immunomagnetic method. Blood samples were collected before, during, and after milking, and the oxytocin, prolactin, and cortisol concentrations in the samples were measured. Tight junction opening was assessed by plasma lactose concentration and the Na+:K+ ratio in milk. The somatic cell count in milk varied during the course of milking; it decreased at the beginning of milking and then increased, reaching the highest values at the end of milking. Exfoliated MEC were present in all milk samples collected. The presence of MEC in the milk sample collected during min 1 of milking, likely corresponding to the cisternal milk fraction, suggests that MEC were exfoliated between milkings. The observed increase in the Na+:K+ ratio in milk and in the plasma concentration of lactose indicated that disruption of mammary epithelium integrity occurred during milking. The MEC exfoliation rate at milking was not correlated with the variables describing milking-induced prolactin release but was negatively correlated with cortisol release, suggesting that cortisol may play a role in limiting exfoliation. In conclusion, milking induced a disruption of the mammary epithelial barrier. Mammary epithelial cells may be continuously exfoliated between milkings or exfoliated during milking as a consequence of the oxytocin-induced mechanical forces and the disruption of mammary epithelium integrity.

Publisher URL: www.sciencedirect.com/science

DOI: S0022030217309074

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