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Endocrine changes during the peripartal period related to colostrogenesis in mammalian species

By: Naomi A Bigler, Josef J Gross, Craig R Baumrucker, Rupert M Bruckmaier

This manuscript reviews and compares hormonal and functional changes occurring in the conceptus (embryo and its extra-embryonic membranes) and their effects on the mammary gland during development from pregnancy to colostrum formation and milk production in multiple mammalian species. Declining activity of gestagens at the end of pregnancy is crucial to allow for both parturition and onset of milk production in most mammals. Strategies to achieve this state of low gestagen activity are different among species. In species where the corpus luteum is sustained throughout the entire pregnancy, luteolysis is the key event to initiate parturition and onset of milk secretion (cattle, goat, pig, cat, dog, rat, mouse, rabbit). However, in species where the placenta takes over gestagen production during the course of pregnancy, the achievement of a state of low gestagen activity is more complex. It ranges from redirection of the hormone production pathway away from gestagens in sheep, to decreasing sensitivity of the uterus towards gestagens in humans. In the horse, there is evidence pointing towards redirection of the hormone production as well as a decrease in sensitivity towards gestagens, but the exact mechanisms are still not clarified.

Read the full article in the Journal of Animal Science.