, Volume 12, Issue 4, pp 293-304
Date: 14 Nov 2007

The Role of Glucocorticoids in Secretory Activation and Milk Secretion, a Historical Perspective

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In this review we present our current understanding of the role of glucocorticoids in secretory activation and milk secretion by looking at the literature from a historical perspective. We begin with the early endocrine ablation experiments and continue from there to show that glucocorticoids are not just necessary for secretory activation and milk secretion—but mandatory. Specifically, we discuss the importance of glucocorticoids to: (1) induce the formation of ultrastructural components necessary to support milk synthesis and secretion, including rough endoplasmic reticulum and tight junction sealing; (2) regulate milk protein gene expression; and (3) prevent the second phase of involution, possibly by preventing the breakdown of the extracellular matrix.