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Mol Cell Endocrinol. 2019 Jan 8. pii: S0303-7207(19)30003-6. doi: 10.1016/j.mce.2019.01.003. [Epub ahead of print]

Relaxin and the 'Milky Way': The lactocrine hypothesis and maternal programming of development.

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Department of Animal Sciences, Endocrinology and Animal Biosciences Program, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ, 08901-8525, USA. Electronic address:
Department of Anatomy, Physiology and Pharmacology, Cellular and Molecular Biosciences Program, College of Veterinary Medicine, Auburn University, Auburn, AL, 36849-5517, USA.


Maternal effects on early postnatal development in mammals are mediated, in part, by milk-borne bioactive factors transmitted from mother to nursing offspring. The term 'lactocrine' was coined to describe this mode of signaling. Relaxin (RLX), one of a family of neohormones found in mammals, is detectable in milk from multiple species. In the pig, evidence of bioactive proRLX in colostrum/milk, immunoreactive RLX in the circulation of nursed neonates, and RLX receptor expression in RLX-sensitive neonatal female reproductive tract tissues, established RLX as a prototypical lactocrine-active factor. Observations provided the foundation for the lactocrine hypothesis for maternal programming of postnatal development. Studies designed to test the lactocrine hypothesis provided insights into both short-term effects of milk-borne bioactive factors in the neonate, and long-term consequences of maternal lactocrine programming of endometrial function and fecundity in adults. Thus, RLX led to the 'Milky Way'.


Development; Neonate; Nursing; Pig; Relaxin; Uterus


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