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J Dairy Sci. 1997 Aug;80(8):1851-65.

Immunobiology of the mammary gland.

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1
Department of Veterinary Science, Pennsylvania State University, University Park 16802-3500, USA.

Abstract

The mammary gland is a complex organ that provides neonatal offspring with milk for nourishment and disease resistance. Specific and innate immune factors associated with mammary gland tissues and secretion also play a vital role in protecting the gland from infectious disease. Through genetic selection and technological advances in milk removal, the bovine mammary gland yields for more milk than is needed to nourish the newborn calf. This excess is the basis of the dairy industry. Factors associated with the intense management of dairy cattle can profoundly affect mammary gland immunity and the ability of the host to resist mastitis. Technological advances in immunology have led to the availability of new research tools that can facilitate the study of mammary gland immunity and disease pathogenesis. In recent years, considerable research effort has focused on enhancing the natural defense mechanisms of the mammary gland during periods of heightened susceptibility to disease. This paper provides a comprehensive overview of mammary gland immunity with special emphasis on the bovine system. The underlying mechanisms of disease susceptibility and development of potential immunoregulatory strategies to control mastitis are discussed.

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