Evidence implicates pivotal roles for parathyroid hormone-related protein (PTHrP) during lactation, including stimulation of mammary and pup growth. As spontaneously hypertensive rat (SHR) pups are growth restricted compared with the control Wistar Kyoto (WKY), we examined the relative roles of pup suckling and maternal lactational environment on pup growth, mammary PTHrP, and milk PTHrP and calcium concentrations. SHR pups were lighter compared with the control from 6 days. SHR mammary PTHrP content and milk PTHrP were lower but maternal plasma PTHrP was raised compared with WKY. SHR mammary morphological development was also impaired compared with control. Cross fostering growth-restricted pups onto WKY mothers increased pup weight in association with normal mammary function and higher milk PTHrP and calcium. Control pups suckling on an SHR mother had reduced body weight. Both cross fostering groups were associated with increased maternal and milk PTHrP concentrations, indicating the importance of suckling, together with a functional mammary gland. The results suggested that impaired SHR mammary function and milk PTHrP are associated with a reduced SHR postnatal growth. Our data also indicated that milk and mammary PTHrP are regulated by different mechanisms but that they are influenced by the maternal lactational environment and the suckling pup.
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