Milk contains a variety of proteins and peptides that possess biological activity. Growth factors, such as growth hormone, insulin-like, epidermal and nerve growth factors are important milk components which may regulate growth and differentiation in various neonatal tissues and also those of the mammary gland itself. We have recently shown that pituitary adenylate cyclase-activating polypeptide (PACAP), an important neuropeptide with neurotrophic actions, is present in the human milk in much higher concentration than in the plasma of lactating women. Investigation of growth factors in the milk of domestic animals is of utmost importance for their nutritional values and agricultural significance. Therefore, the aim of the present study was to determine the presence and concentration of PACAP in the plasma and milk of three ruminant animal species. Furthermore, the presence of PACAP and its specific PAC1 receptor were investigated in the mammary glands. Radioimmunoassay measurements revealed that PACAP was present in the plasma and the milk of the sheep, goat and the cow in a similar concentration to that measured previously in humans. PACAP38-like immunoreactivity (PACAP38-LI) was 5-20-fold higher in the milk than in the plasma samples of the respective animals, a similar serum/milk ratio was found in all the three species. The levels did not show significant changes within the examined 3-month-period of lactation after delivery. Similar PACAP38-LI was measured in the homogenates of the sheep mammary gland samples taken 7 and 30. days after delivery. PAC1 receptor expression was detected in these udder biopsies by fluorescent immunohistochemistry suggesting that this peptide might have an effect on the mammary glands themselves.These data show that PACAP is present in the milk of various ruminant domestic animal species at high concentrations, the physiological implications of which awaits further investigation.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Animal Science and Zoology