[MARMAM] New Paper: Mammary gland development in primiparous and multiparous grey seals

Shelley Lang shelley.lang at dal.ca
Thu Jul 26 04:11:44 PDT 2012

Lang, S. L. C., S. J. Iverson, and W. D. Bowen. 2012. Primiparous and
multiparous females differ in mammary gland alveolar development:
implications for milk production. Journal of Experimental Biology
215:2904-2911. doi: 10.1242/jeb.067058




Abstract: Mammary gland capacity is influenced by the number of secretory
cells in the gland, the activity of those cells and the size and arrangement
of the alveoli that they form. Although reproductive experience has been
shown to affect the total number of secretory cells in the gland, its
potential effect on the structural development of lobulo-alveolar tissues
has not been directly investigated. To examine whether reproductive
experience affects lobulo-alveolar development, we took mammary gland
biopsies at early and peak lactation from primiparous and multiparous grey
seal (Halichoerus grypus) females and used histological techniques to
compare cell density, alveolar density and alveolar size within secretory
lobules. Primiparous females had a significantly higher cell density
compared with multiparous females throughout lactation, suggesting that
primiparous females have smaller, less-developed secretory cells.
Primiparous females had a significantly smaller average alveolar size
compared with multiparous females throughout lactation. Although alveolar
density was higher in primiparous females compared with multiparous females
at early lactation, there was no significant difference between the groups
at peak lactation. These results suggest that the mammary gland of
primiparous females may have both a lower secretory capacity and a lower
storage capacity on a relative basis than those of multiparous females and
demonstrate, for the first time, that reproductive experience has a
significant effect on both the rate and pattern of mammary gland alveolar
development and, potentially, on a female's capacity for milk production.


For reprint requests please contact shelley.lang at dal.ca

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