Cell population, viability, and some key immunomodulatory molecules in different milk somatic cell samples in dairy cows

Baumert, A.; Bruckmaier, R.M.; Wellnitz, O. (2009). Cell population, viability, and some key immunomodulatory molecules in different milk somatic cell samples in dairy cows. Journal of dairy research, 76(3), pp. 356-64. London: Cambridge University Press 10.1017/S0022029909004129

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Immune cells in the milk are most important in combating pathogens that invade the mammary gland. This study investigated the immune competence and viability of somatic milk cells that are already resident in milk and udders free of infection. Cells were studied in freshly removed milk to simulate conditions in the udder. Effects of incubation, cell preparation, and immunological stimulation with 0.5 mug/ml lipopolysaccharide (LPS) from Escherichia coli were analysed. Viability and differential counts of milk cells between high and low somatic cell count (SCC) quarters, and cisternal and alveolar milk with and without LPS stimulation were compared. Incubation and preparation of cells caused a cell loss which further increased with time independently of SCC and milk fraction. The viability of these cells was stable until 3 h post incubation and decreased until 6 h. Cell populations differed between both investigations, but did not change during the course of the experiment. mRNA expression of immune and apoptosis factors of the cells, measured by qPCR, did not change substantially: mRNA expression of caspase 3, Toll like receptor 4, and GM-CSF did not change, whereas the expression of the death receptor Fas/APO-1 (CD95), lactoferrin and lysozyme was decreased at 6 h. Cyclooxygenase-2 and TNF-alpha mRNA expression were decreased after 6 h of LPS treatment. In comparison with other studies in vivo or in vitro (in cell culture), in this study where cells are studied ex vivo (removed from the udder but kept in their natural environment, the milk) resident milk cells seem to be more vulnerable, less viable, less able to respond to stimulation, and thus less immune competent compared with cells that have freshly migrated from blood into milk after pathogen stimulation. The cell viability and differential cell count differed between high- and low-SCC milk and between cisternal and alveolar milk depending on the individual cow. In conclusion, the results support the view that for a most effective defence against invading pathogens the mammary gland is reliant on the recruitment of fresh immune cells from the blood.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


05 Veterinary Medicine > Department of Clinical Research and Veterinary Public Health (DCR-VPH) > Veterinary Physiology

UniBE Contributor:

Baumert, Amandine; Bruckmaier, Rupert and Wellnitz, Olga




Cambridge University Press




Factscience Import

Date Deposited:

04 Oct 2013 15:25

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 14:26

Publisher DOI:


Web of Science ID:





https://boris.unibe.ch/id/eprint/38376 (FactScience: 221252)

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