Journal of Mammary Gland Biology and Neoplasia

, Volume 12, Issue 4, pp 237–247 | Cite as

Immune Components of Colostrum and Milk—A Historical Perspective

  • Thomas T. Wheeler
  • Alison J. Hodgkinson
  • Colin G. Prosser
  • Stephen R. Davis


Key developments in the understanding of the immune functions of milk and colostrum are reviewed, focusing on their proteinaceous components. The topics covered include the immunoglobulins, immune cells, immunomodulatory substances, and antimicrobial proteins. The contributions of new technologies and the introduction of fresh approaches from other fields are highlighted, as are the contributions that mammary biology research has made to the development of other fields. Finally, a summary of some current outstanding questions and likely future directions of the field are given.


Lactation Mammary Antimicrobial 



bactericidal/permeability increasing protein


docosahexaenoic acids


eicosapentaenoic acid


immunoglobulin A


immunoglobulin G


lipopolysaccharide binding protein


long chain-polyunsaturated fatty acids



The authors wish to acknowledge the efforts of Claire Miller and the staff at the AgResearch, Ruakura Information Services section in procuring the sometimes obscure original literature.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Thomas T. Wheeler
    • 1
  • Alison J. Hodgkinson
    • 1
  • Colin G. Prosser
    • 2
  • Stephen R. Davis
    • 3
  1. 1.Dairy Science and Technologies SectionAgResearch, Ruakura Research CentreHamiltonNew Zealand
  2. 2.Dairy Goat Co-operative (NZ) Ltd.HamiltonNew Zealand
  3. 3.Vialactia Biosciences Ltd.Newmarket, AucklandNew Zealand

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