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The MAC-T cell line has been used extensively to investigate bovine mammary epithelial cell function. A lactogenic phenotype is generally induced in this cell line by a combination of dexamethasone, insulin and prolactin and has typically been assessed by milk protein production. Few studies have focused on identifying other factors that may affect milk protein synthesis in the MAC-T cell line, and none have considered the lipid class distribution of MAC-T cells as a component of the lactogenic phenotype. Growth hormone (GH) has been shown to increase milk protein synthesis both in vivo and in mammary cell models, and has been shown to alter the lipogenic profile of mammary explant models. We tested the hypothesis that MAC-T cells would respond directly to GH and that the response would include alterations to the lipid class distribution as well as to milk protein gene expression, leading to a more appropriate model for mammary cell function than treatment with dexamethasone, insulin and prolactin alone. Differentiated cells expressed GH receptor mRNA, and addition of GH to the differentiation medium significantly induced production of α-s1 casein and alpha-lactalbumin mRNA. GH also significantly affected the proportion of triacylglycerol and sphingomyelin. These results indicate that GH is an important factor in inducing a lactogenic phenotype in the MAC-T cell line, and support the possibility of a direct effect of GH on milk synthesis in vivo.


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