Relationship between glucocorticoids and prolactin during mammary gland stimulation in dairy cows
ABSTRACT The objectives of this study were to determine the role of glucocorticoids in the regulation of prolactin (PRL) release induced by mammary gland stimulation and to investigate whether the milk depression induced by glucocorticoids in dairy cows is due to a decrease in PRL release. In experiment 1, 8 dairy cows were used in a 4 × 4 Latin square design. Four hours after the morning milking, the cows received 1 of the following treatments: (1) a 5-min manual stimulation of the mammary gland; (2) an i.v. injection of 1 mg of dexamethasone; (3) 2 infusions of 2.5 g of metyrapone (an inhibitor of cortisol biosynthesis) in the omasum 4 and 2 h before a 5-min stimulation of the mammary gland; or (4) no treatment. Sixty minutes later, the mammary gland of each cow was stimulated for 5 min. Blood samples were collected from 20 min before to 120 min after the start of the treatment. When the mammary gland was stimulated twice in 60 min, less PRL and cortisol were released during the second stimulation. Metyrapone did not affect PRL or cortisol release. Dexamethasone decreased serum cortisol concentration but did not affect PRL concentration. In experiment 2, 16 cows were used in a crossover experimental design consisting of 2 experimental weeks separated by 1 resting week. During the first week, cows were treated as follows: (1) 4 cows were injected with 0.5 g of domperidone (a PRL secretagogue) in canola oil on d 1 and 2 and 20 mg of dexamethasone on d 1; (2) 4 cows were injected with 0.5 g of domperidone on d 1 and 2; (3) 4 cows were injected with canola oil on d 1 and 2 and with 20 mg of dexamethasone on d 1; and (4) 4 cows were injected with canola oil on d 1 and 2. During the second experimental week, the same 4 treatments were repeated, except the cows that did not receive dexamethasone in the first week received it on d 1 of the second week, and cows that did receive it in the first week did not receive it in the second week. On d 1 and 2 of each week, blood samples were collected during morning milking for PRL determination. Dexamethasone reduced milk production and decreased both basal and milking-induced PRL release. It also increased milk fat and protein percentages and decreased milk lactose content. Domperidone increased basal PRL levels in serum and milk but did not affect milk yield. Although we cannot rule out the possibility that inhibition of PRL secretion or reduction of mammary gland PRL responsiveness play a role in the inhibition of milk production by glucocorticoids, the fact that enhancement of PRL secretion by domperidone could not prevent the depression of milk yield suggests that other mechanisms are involved.
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