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A Plath, R Einspanier, F Peters, F Sinowatz and D Schams

It is now widely accepted that the mammary gland is under interconnected hormonal and local control. Growth factors are involved in the intercellular signalling of the gland. Our aim was the detection of transforming growth factors alpha (TGF-alpha) and beta 1 (TGF-beta 1) messenger RNA during mammogenesis, lactogenesis, galactopoiesis and involution in the bovine mammary gland (total n = 27). During these stages the RNA was assessed by means of ribonuclease protection assay and reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR). To study possible influences of oestrogen, progesterone and prolactin on growth factor expression, mammary RNA was obtained from heifers after induced mammogenesis and lactogenesis, with and without additional prolactin inhibition (total n = 20). Very low levels of TGF-alpha and TGF-beta 1 expression were detected during lactogenesis and galactopoiesis, increasing levels during mammogenesis of primigravid heifers, and highest levels during mammogenesis of virgin heifers and during involution. TGF-alpha expression after induced mammogenesis was greater than after induced lactogenesis or physiological mammogenesis during pregnancy. Furthermore, TGF-alpha mRNA contents increased after prolactin inhibition. TGF-beta 1 expression was almost equal after induced mammogenesis and lactogenesis, but greater than during the physiological mammogenesis and lactogenesis. In conclusion, it can be assumed that growth promoting TGF-alpha and growth inhibiting TGF-beta 1 are co-expressed in the bovine mammary gland. Higher mRNA contents of both factors during mammogenesis and involution may indicate autocrine or paracrine functions for these growth factors during proliferation and reorganisation of the mammary tissue.

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F Sinowatz, D Schams, S Kolle, A Plath, D Lincoln and MJ Waters

We have used immunohistochemistry and non-radioactive in situ hybridisation to localise the GH receptor and its transcript in the bovine mammary gland during mammogenesis, lactation and involution. We found a characteristic pattern of immunoreactive GH (irGH) receptor distribution in the epithelial and stromal compartments during the different stages of mammary gland development: The ductular epithelium showed a distinct staining for irGH receptor during most stages, whereas the alveolar epithelium contained a modest amount of GH receptor during pregnancy which increased during lactation and galactopoiesis. In dry cows, the immunostaining for GH receptors in the alveolar epithelium was very weak or negative. Curiously, the amount of GH receptor mRNA appeared relatively constant during mammogenesis and lactation. The epithelial cells of the alveoli and ducts as well as the endothelial cells showed a distinct signal in our in situ hy! bridisation studies. The predominant localisation of GH receptors in the epithelium of ducts and alveoli is supportive of a role for GH in epithelial differentiation and maintenance. Furthermore, the increased intensity of immunostaining in bovine mammary tissue post partum suggests a direct role for GH receptor in mediating the effect of GH in milk production and secretion.

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A Plath-Gabler, C Gabler, F Sinowatz, B Berisha and D Schams

To study the involvement of the IGFs in mammary development and lactation of the cow, the temporal expressions of IGF-I and -II, its receptor type 1 (IGFR-1), IGF-binding proteins (IGFBPs)-1 to -6 and GH receptor (GHR) mRNA were examined. This was carried out for different stages of mammogenesis, lactogenesis, galactopoiesis and involution in the bovine mammary gland of 26 animals. Furthermore, IGF-I was localised by immunohistochemistry. The highest mRNA concentrations for IGF-I were detected in the mammary tissue of late pregnant heifers (days 255-272) and significantly lower expression was detected during lactogenesis and galactopoiesis. Immunohistochemistry of IGF-I revealed only a weak staining in the epithelium of the ducts during mammogenesis. The epithelium of the alveoli were negative during mammogenesis, lactogenesis and galactopoiesis but displayed distinct IGF-I activity during involution. In the stroma a distinct staining of the cytoplasm of adipocytes and of vascular smooth muscle cells was observed. A certain percentage of fibroblasts (usually 20-30%) were also immunopositive. In contrast, highest expression for IGFR-1 was detected during galactopoiesis and involution. The lowest mRNA concentration for IGFR-1 was found during pregnancy (days 194-213). In general, the expression of IGF-II was not regulated during mammogenesis and lactation, but decreased during involution. The mRNA for the six binding proteins was detected in the bovine mammary gland. The dominant binding proteins were IGFBP-3 and -5. The highest expression of IGFBP-3 was observed during mid-pregnancy and the lowest during late lactation, involution and in non-pregnant heifers. The mRNA for IGFBP-5 increased during late mammogenesis and lactogenesis followed by a decrease thereafter. In general, the mRNA concentrations for IGFBP-2, -4 and -6 were barely detectable during all stages. In contrast, the expression for IGFBP-1 was upregulated in the mammary gland of virgin heifers and increased around the onset of lactation. mRNA for GHR was found during all stages examined without outstanding fluctuations. In conclusion, locally produced IGF-I and -II may mediate mammogenesis. The high mammary IGFR-1 mRNA during lactation suggests a role for peripheral IGF-I in maintenance of lactation. The role of IGFBPs in the mammary gland needs further evaluation.