Production and active transport of immunoglobulins within the ruminant mammary gland.


CSIRO Agriculture and Food, FD McMaster Laboratory, Locked Bag 1, Armidale, NSW, 2350, Australia. Electronic address: [Email]


The primary function of the mammary gland is to produce milk to feed the suckling young. In ruminants, ingestion of maternal antibodies in mammary secretions facilitates the transfer of passive immunity from mother to young, providing antibody-mediated immunity to protect the neonate against disease while their own immune system develops. Antibodies in mammary secretions also play a role in protecting the gland itself against infection. Here we provide a brief history of studies on immunoglobulins in ruminant mammary secretions and review recent findings describing the mechanisms by which antibody-producing plasmablasts are recruited to the gland and immunoglobulins are transported into ruminant mammary secretions. An improved understanding of the complex interaction of factors which regulate immunoglobulin production and transfer to the ruminant mammary gland may provide opportunities to enhance antibody concentrations in mammary secretions during normal lactation and in response to immunisation. Strategies aimed at increasing antibody concentrations in ruminant mammary secretions have the potential to improve the ability of animals to resist mammary infections, enhance the transfer of passive immunity from mother to young and increase the feasibility of harvesting antibodies from the mammary secretions for use in commercial therapeutic applications for humans and domesticated animals.



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