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Steroids. 2013 Oct;78(10):973-81. doi: 10.1016/j.steroids.2013.06.003. Epub 2013 Jun 27.

Changes in mammary secretory tissue during lactation in ovariectomized dairy cows.

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INRA, UMR1348 Pegase, F-35590 Saint-Gilles, France.


In dairy animals, the milk yield (MY) changes during a lactation and is influenced by several physiological, livestock management and environmental factors. The MY produced by a mammary gland depends on synthetic activity of mammary epithelial cells (MECs) as well as MEC number and mammary secretory tissue organization. It has been suggested that ovarian steroids (estradiol and progesterone) have a negative effect on MY in lactating cows. In a previous study, we showed that the suppression of ovarian secretions by an ovariectomy improved lactation persistency in dairy cows. Here we were interested in the effects of ovariectomy on plasma estradiol and progesterone concentrations and on changes that occur in mammary secretory tissue during lactation. We demonstrated that the ovariectomy of lactating cows at the time of the lactation peak induced a rapid and dramatic drop in plasma progesterone and a smaller reduction in plasma estradiol. Interestingly, the study of the changes in mammary secretory tissue over time revealed that the improvement of MY measured in the ovariectomized cows was associated with a limited increase in estradiol receptivity in MECs, a reduced mammary tissue remodeling and reduced blood protein concentration in milk, in late lactation. These results suggest that ovarian secretions, particularly estradiol and progesterone, act to enhance processes for mammary gland involution in late-lactating dairy cows.


Dairy cow; Estradiol; Involution; Lactation; Mammary gland; Progesterone

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