Evaluation of genes expression affecting mammary gland growth and development in cows fed fish oil

Document Type : Research Paper


1 Former Ph. D. Student, University College of Agriculture & Natural Resources, University of Tehran, Karaj, Iran

2 Assistant Professor, Animal Science Research Institute of Iran, Agricultural Research, Education and Extension Organization (AREEO), Karaj, Iran

3 Professor, University College of Agriculture & Natural Resources, University of Tehran, Karaj, Iran

4 Associate Professor, University College of Agriculture & Natural Resources, University of Tehran, Karaj, Iran


This study was conducted to evaluate the effects of feeding fish oil compared to palm oil on the expression of genes affecting the mammary gland growth and development in Holstein cows. Ten cows with at least one parturition were randomly assigned to fish oil (FO) or palm oil (PO) groups, from 42 days before expected parturition date up to 63 days of lactation. Blood samples were taken at 21 days intervals and mammary tissue sampling were taken in two-month intervals (seven and 63 days after parturition). There was no significant difference in serum estradiol and progesterone concentration between two groups. The result of gene expression analysis showed that the relative expression of IGF-I gene in the fish oil group decreased (P<0.05) and the relative expression of TNF-α gene in this group tended to decrease (P=0.06). Expression of Bcl-2 in fish oil group tended to increase over time (P=0.10). The ratio of BCL-2/BAX gene expression with approaching to lactation peak, showed a decreasing trend for the PO group but, for the FO group, an increase was observed indicating that apoptosis in mammary gland tissue was decreased. In conclusion, it is probable that the consumption of fish oil from mid dry period to lactation peak postpone the apoptosis process in Holstein cow’s mammary gland.


  1. Bernard, L., Toral, P. G. & Chilliard, Y. (2017). Comparison of mammary lipid metabolism in dairy cows and goats fed diets supplemented with starch, plant oil, or fish oil. Journal of Dairy Science, 100, 9338-9351.
  2. Calviello, G. & Serini, S. (2010). Dietary omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids and cancer. 261pp. Springer Science+Business Media. New York, USA.
  3. Capuco, A. V., Ellis, S. E.,  Hale, S. A.,  Long, E., Erdman, R. A., Zhao, X. & Paape, M. J. (2003). Lactation persistency: Insights from mammary cell proliferation studies. Journal of Animal Science, 81(Suppl.3), 18-31.
  4. Carreno, D., Hervas, G., Toral, P. G., Castro-Carrera, T. & Frutos, P. (2016). Fish oil – induced milk fat depression and associated downregulation of mammary lipogenic genes in dairy ewes. Journal of Dairy Science, 99, 7971-7981.
  5. Cohick, W. S. (1998). Role of the insulin-like growth factors and their binding proteins in lactation. Symposium: Growth hormone and insulin-like growth factors. Journal of Dairy Science, 81, 1769-1777.
  6. Colliti, M. & Farinacci, M. (2009). Cell turnover and gene activities in sheep mammary glands prior to lambing to involution. Tissue Cell, 41, 326-333.
  7. Dangour, A. D. & Uauy, R. (2008). n-3 long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids for optimal function during brain development and ageing. Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 17, 185-188.
  8. Fernyhough, M. E., Okine, E., Hausman, G., Vierck, J. L. & Dodson, M. V. (2007). PPARg and GLUT-4 expression as developmental regulators/ markers for preadipocyte differentiation into an adipocyte. Domestic Animal Endocrinology, 33, 367-378.
  9. Flachs, P., Rossmeisl, M., Bryhn, M. & Kopecky, J. (2009). Cellular and molecular effects of n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids on adipose tissue biology and metabolism. Clinical Science, 116, 1-16.
  10. Flint, D. J., Boutinaud, M., Tonner, E., Wilde, C. J.,  Hurley, W., Accorsi, P. A., Kolb, A. F., Whitelaw, C. B. A., Beattie, J. & Allan, G. J. (2005). Insulin-Like growth factor binding proteins initiate cell death and extracellular matrix remodeling in the mammary gland. Domestic Animal Endocrinology, 29, 274-282.
  11. Frutos, P., Toral, P. G. & Hervas, G. (2017). Individual variation of the extent of milk fat depression in dairy ewe fed fish oil: milk fatty acid profile and mRNA abundance of candidate genes involved in mammary lipogenesis. Journal of Dairy Science, 100, 9611-9622.
  12. Gabor H., Hillyard L.A. & Abraham S. (1985). Effect of dietary fat on growth kinetics of transplantable mammary adenocarcinoma in BALB/c Mice. Journal of the National Cancer Institute. 74: 1299-1305.
  13. Hardman, W. E. (2004). (n-3) Fatty acids and cancer therapy. The Journal of Nutrition, 134, 3427S- 3430S.
  14. Hovey, R. C., McFadden, T. B. & Akers, R. M. (1999). Regulation of mammary gland growth and morphogenesis by the mammary fat pad: A species comparison. Journal of Mammary gland Biology and Neoplasia, 4, 53-68.
  15. Huang, F. R., Zhan, Z. P., Luo, J., Jian, S. W. & Peng, J. (2008). Duration of feeding linseed diet influences peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor γ and tumor necrosis factor gene expression, and muscle mass of growing–finishing barrows. Livestock Science, 119, 194-201.
  16. Hurley, W. L. & Ford Jr, J. A. (2002). Growth, Development, Involution. Mammary gland. Elsevier Science Ltd. USA.
  17. Javaheri Barfourooshi, H., Towhidi, A., Sadeghipanah, H., Zhandi, M. & Zeinoaldini, S. (2014.) Effect of supplemental n-3 fatty acids during pre- and postpartum diets on health and production of Holstein dairy cows. Iranian Journal of Animal Science, 45(3), 245-255. (in Farsi)
  18. Liu J. & Ma D.W.L. (2014). The role of n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids in the prevention and treatment of breast cancer. Nutrients, 6, 5184-5223.
  19. Mach, N., Jacobs, A. A. A., Kruijt, L., van Baal, J. & Smits, M. A. (2011). Alteration of gene expression in mammary gland tissue of dietary cows in response to dietary unsaturated fatty acids. Animal, 5, 1217-1230.
  20. McLennan, M. & Ma, D.W.L. (2010). Role of dietary fatty acids in mammary gland development and breast cancer. Breast Cancer Research, 12, 211-220.
  21. Norgaard, J. V., Nielsen, M. O., Theil, P. K., Sorensen, M. T., Safayi S. & Sejrsen, K. (2008). Development of mammary glands of fat sheep submitted to restrict feeding during late pregnancy. Small Ruminant Research, 76, 155-165.
  22. Plath-Gabler, A., Gabler, C., Sinowatz, F., Berisha, B. & Schams, D. (2001). The expression of the IGF family and GH receptor in the bovine mammary gland. Journal of Endocrinology, 168, 39-48.
  23. Politi, L., Rotstein, N. & Carri, N. (2001). Effects of docosahexaenoic acid on retinal development: Cellular and molecular aspects. Lipids, 36(9), 927-935.
  24. Purup, S., Vestergaard, M., Weber, M. S., Plaut, K., Akers, R. M. & Sejrsen, K. (2000). Local regulation of pubertal mammary growth in heifers. Journal of Animal Science, 78(Suppl.3), 36-47.
  25. Safayi, S. Theil, P. K., Elbrond, V. S., Hou, L., Engbaek, M., Norgaard, J. V., Sejrsen, K. & Nielsen, M. O. (2010). Mammary remodeling in primiparous and multiparous dairy goats during lactation. Journal of Dairy Science, 93, 1478-1490.
  26. Sejrsen, K., Purup, S., Vestergaard, M. & Foldager, J. (2000). High body weight gain and reduced bovine mammary growth: physiological basis and implications for milk yield potential. Domestic Animal Endocrinology, 19, 93-104.
  27. Toral, P.G., Hervas, G., Belenguer, A. Carreno, D. & Frutos, P. (2017). mRNA abundance of genes involved in mammary lipogenesis during fish oil-or trans- 10, cis-12 CLA- induced milk fat depression in dairy ewes. Journal of Dairy Science, 100, 3182-3192.
  28. Wall, E. H., Auchtung, T. L., Dahl, G. E., Ellis, S. E. & MacFadden, T. B. (2005). Exposure to short day photoperiod during the dry period enhances mammary growth in dairy cows. Journal of Dairy Science, 88, 1994-2003.
  29. Wall, E. H. & McFadden, T. B. (2010). The effects of milk removal or four-times-daily milking on mammary expression of genes involved in the insulin-like growth factor-I axis. Journal of Dairy Science, 93, 4062-4070.
  30. Weber, M. S., Purup, S., Vestergaard, M., Akers, R. M. & Sejersen, K. (2000). Nutritional and somatotropin regulation of mitogenic response of mammary cells to mammary tissue extracts. Domestic Animal Endocrinology, 18, 159-164.
  31. Welsch, C. W. (1992). Dietary fat, calories, and mammary gland tumorigenesis. Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology, 332, 203-222.