Insulin-Like Growth Factor (IGF) System in the Bovine Mammary Gland and Milk

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Primary bovine mammary cells express the two IGF receptors (IGF-IR, IGF-IIR),4 insulinreceptor, and four IGFBPs (IGFBP-2, -3, -4, and -5). Examination of the IGF-IR during themammary gland lactation cycle shows that IGF-IR number declines at parturition, a changethat coincides with decreases in the blood level of its ligand, IGF-I. IGF-II and IGF-IIR arelargely unchanged. IGFBP-3 is the predominant mammary IGFBP and its concentration alsodeclines in blood and milk during lactation compared to prepartum and involution periods.Time of lactation and pregnancy were the main determinants of milk but not bloodIGFBP-3 levels. IGFBP-3 binds to membrane proteins of bovine mammary tissue; an IGFBP-3 bindingprotein has been identified as bovine lactoferrin. Lactoferrin has the capacity to compete withIGF binding to IGFBP-3. Appearance of both IGFBP-3 and lactoferrin in conditioned mediaof primary cultures of bovine mammary cells was stimulated by all trans retinoic acid (atRA).Furthermore, atRA was necessary for the entry of exogenously added lactoferrin into themammary cell nucleus, while IGFBP-3 entry into the nuclei of atRA treated cells requiredthe presence of lactoferrin. These findings reveal a novel role for lactoferrin, suggesting thatlactoferrin is critically involved in the regulation of the IGF system during the involution period.