Triennial lactation symposium/bolfa: Adipokines affect mammary growth and function in farm animals


Palin, M.F., Farmer, C., Duarte, C.R.A. (2017). Triennial lactation symposium/bolfa: Adipokines affect mammary growth and function in farm animals. Journal of Animal Science, [online] 95(12), 5689-5700.

Plain language summary

Effect of adipokines on mammary gland growth and function in farm animals:
This review presents current knowledge regarding the role of adipokines, molecules secreted by cells in mammary fat pads, in breast development and the mechanisms leading to milk production in farm animals. We also discuss the role of adipokines found in breast milk in the health and growth of young. Various studies have reported that the amounts of adiponectin and leptin (two adipokines) in the blood and mammary fat pad vary according to the physiological stage (e.g., pregnancy, lactation) and nutritional level of the animal. Adipokines appear to regulate the various functions of the mammary gland during critical periods, such as the end of gestation and the beginning of lactation. This review also demonstrates that adipokines are able to control the production and role of lactogenic hormones, such as prolactin, in the mammary gland. Finally, adipokines in milk may improve intestinal growth and maturity in newborns.


The essential role of mammary fat pads in mammary growth and morphogenesis was the first indication that biologically active molecules, secreted from adipocytes or other stromal cells, could regulate endocrine cues for growth and function of the mammary gland. The presence of leptin and adiponectin receptors in mammary tissues suggested that locally produced or circulating adipokines could affect mammary growth and function. Herein, we present the current knowledge on the role of adipokines in mammary cell proliferation and differentiation and in lactogenesis and galactopoiesis in farm animals. We also address the role of milk adipokines in the neonate. Accumulating evidence suggests that adipokines could act as metabolic sensors, regulating mammary growth and function in periods of metabolic adaptations such as late pregnancy and early lactation. Indeed, different experiments reported that adiponectin and leptin expression varies according to physiological stages and nutritional status of the animal. The current review also demonstrates that adipokines, such as leptin and adiponectin, are important regulators of the action of lactogenic hormones in the mammary gland. Findings also suggest important roles for adipokines in growth and intestinal maturation of the neonate.

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