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TL Auchtung, PE Kendall, JL Salak-Johnson, TB McFadden and GE Dahl

Recent evidence suggests that photoperiod influences immune function. Interestingly, photoperiod has profound effects on concentrations of prolactin (PRL), a hormone also known to be involved in fluctuations of the immune system. However, the impact of photoperiod on PRL receptor (PRL-R) expression is poorly understood, particularly in tIssues of the immune system. Two experiments were performed to increase the general understanding of how photoperiod interacts with the immune system. Our first objective was to determine the effects of photoperiod on PRL-R mRNA expression and cellular immune function. Lymphocytes were isolated from blood collected from calves (n=10) and PRL-R mRNA expression of both long and short forms was quantified using real-time PCR. Lymphocytes expressed PRL-R mRNA, suggesting that PRL could act directly on these cells. To determine the relationship between photoperiod and PRL-R mRNA expression in other tIssues, hepatic and mammary biopsies were collected after calves were exposed to long days (LDPP; 16 h light:8 h darkness) or short days (SDPP; 8 h light:16 h darkness). Relative to LDPP, SDPP decreased circulating PRL, but increased expression of both forms of PRL-R mRNA in liver, mammary gland and lymphocytes. Short days also increased lymphocyte proliferation compared with long days. Reversal of photoperiodic treatments reversed the effects on circulating PRL, PRL-R mRNA expression and lymphocyte proliferation. Our second objective was to manipulate PRL concentration in photoperiod-treated animals, using bromocriptine. Concentrations of PRL in LDPP animals injected daily with bromocriptine for 1 week were decreased compared with LDPP controls, to a level similar to SDPP animals. Receptor expression was increased in LDPP+bromocriptine-treated animals relative to LDPP controls, as was lymphocyte proliferation. Overall, our results indicate that photoperiodic effects on PRL-R mRNA expression were inverse to those on circulating PRL, with short days stimulating expression of both forms of PRL-R mRNA. Expression of PRL-R mRNA changed in the same direction as lymphocyte proliferation with regard to photoperiod treatment, suggesting a link between photoperiodic effects on PRL sensitivity and immune function. Thus, PRL signaling may mediate photoperiodic effects on immune function.

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GM Barrington, TE Besser, CC Gay, WC Davis, JJ Reeves, TB McFadden and RM Akers

Induction of colostrogenesis in non-pregnant cows was used to evaluate the relationship between prolactin (PRL) and mammary immunoglobulin G1 (IgG1) receptor expression. Six of eleven non-pregnant, non-lactating Holstein cattle responded to a standard lactation induction protocol by development of elevated IgG1 concentrations in mammary secretions. In order to increase the diversity in PRL concentrations, two of the six cattle were treated with bromocriptine, and two others were treated with recombinant bovine PRL. Serum alpha-lactalbumin, serum PRL and mammary secretion IgG1 concentrations were measured throughout the experiment. Biopsies of mammary tissue were collected after induction of lactation, and after treatments to alter serum PRL. Immunohistochemistry was used to evaluate IgG1 receptor expression. Administration of recombinant bovine (rbPRL) was associated with increased lactogenic activity, decreased secretion IgG1 concentrations, and decreased IgG1 receptor expression. Decreased serum PRL, due to bromocriptine, was associated with decreased lactogenic activity and maintenance of IgG1 receptor expression. Results of this experiment are consistent with an effect of PRL in decreasing the expression of the bovine mammary IgG1 receptor at the onset of lactogenesis.