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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