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Pituitary adenylate cyclase activating polypeptide (PACAP) is involved in development and reproduction. We previously described elevated PACAP levels in the milk compared to the plasma, and the presence of its specific PAC1 receptor in the mammary gland. This study aimed to determine PACAP and vasoactive intestinal peptide (VIP) levels in female suckling lambs compared to ewe plasma and mammary gland, as well as their age-dependent alterations. mRNA expressions of PACAP, VIP, PAC1 receptor and brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) were quantified in the milk whey and mammary gland. PACAP38-like immunoreactivity (PACAP38-LI) was measured in plasma, milk whey and mammary gland by radioimmunoassay, VIP-LI by enzyme-linked immunoassay. PACAP38-LI was 5, 6 times higher in the milk compared to the plasma of lactating sheep. It significantly increased in the lamb plasma 1 h, but returned to basal level 2 h after suckling. However, VIP mRNA was not present in the mammary gland, we detected the VIP protein in the milk whey. BDNF mRNA significantly decreased with age to approximately 60% and 25% in the 3- and 10-year-old sheep respectively, compared to the 3-month-old lambs. No differences were found between mammary and jugular vein plasma PACAP and VIP concentrations, or during the daily cycle. We propose a rapid absorption of PACAP38 from the milk and/or its release in suckling lambs. PACAP accumulated in the milk might be synthesized in the mammary gland or secreted from the plasma of the mothers. PACAP is suggested to have differentiation/proliferation promoting and immunomodulatory effects in the newborns and/or a local function in the mammary gland.

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Acta Physiologica Hungarica
Authors: K. Csanaky, D. Reglődi, E. Bánki, I. Tarcai, L. Márk, Zs Helyes, T. Ertl, J. Gyarmati, K. Horváth, L. Sántik, and Andrea Tamás

Pituitary adenylate cyclase activating polypeptide (PACAP) is a neuropeptide with special importance in reproductive and developmental processes. PACAP is found in two bioactive forms: PACAP27 and PACAP38. Recently, we have described that PACAP38 is present in high levels in the milk of human and ruminant animals. Breastfeeding is of utmost importance in proper nutrition of the newborn, but artificial nursing with infant formulas is necessary when breastfeeding is not available. Composition of the breast milk varies during the whole period of nursing and it shows differences at the beginning (foremilk) and the end of an actual suckling (hindmilk). The aim of this study was to investigate PACAP38-like immunoreactivity (PACAP38-LI) in different milk and infant formula samples by radioimmunoassay and to prove the presence of PACAP38 in the infant formula by mass spectrometry. We found similar PACAP38-LI in human mature foremilk and hindmilk samples, in the fresh and pasteurized cow milk and also in formulas. However, we found significantly higher PACAP38-LI in the hypoantigenic formula undergoing extensive hydrolysis compared to the non-hypoantigenic ones. Our results suggest that PACAP38 is relatively stable in the milk and it can withstand the manufacturing processes.

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