Ovariectomy in young prepubertal dairy heifers causes complete suppression of mammary progesterone receptors

B. T. Velayudhan, B. P. Huderson, S. E. Ellis, C. L. Parsons, R. C. Hovey, A. R. Rowson, R. M. Akers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Mammary growth and development depends on ovarian steroids and particularly interaction of estrogen and progesterone with their intracellular receptors. The objectives of this study were to determine the effect of ovariectomy on the expression of protein and messenger RNA for estrogen receptor-alpha (ESR1) and progesterone receptor (PGR) and their relation to mammary ductal development and cell proliferation. Prepubertal Holstein heifers 2, 3, or 4mo of age were randomly assigned to one of 2 treatments, ovariectomized (OVX; n = 8) or sham operated (INT; n = 12). Mammary parenchymal (PAR) tissue samples were harvested 30d after surgery. Localization and quantitation of ESR1 and PGR in PAR were determined by immunohistochemistry and quantitative multispectral imaging. Relative messenger RNA expression of ESR1 and PGR in PAR was measured by quantitative real time polymerase chain reaction. We observed the complete absence of PGR-positive epithelial cell nuclei and reduced PGR transcript abundance in mammary parenchyma of OVX heifers. The percent of epithelial cells expressing ESR1 did not differ by treatment but was decreased with age. However, average intensity of ESR1 expression per cell was reduced in OVX heifers. The abundance of Ki67 labeled epithelial cells and stromal cells was reduced after ovariectomy. These data suggest that reduced mammary development after ovariectomy may be mediated by loss of PGR expression and reduced ESR1 expression in positive cells. A presumptive relationship with ovarian-derived circulating estradiol remains unresolved, but data suggest other ovarian-derived agents may play a role. Use of specific antagonists to manipulate expression or action of PGR and ESR1 receptors should provide direct evidence for roles of these receptors in prepubertal bovine mammary development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)8-18
Number of pages11
JournalDomestic Animal Endocrinology
StatePublished - Apr 1 2015


  • Bovine
  • Estrogen receptor
  • Mammary
  • Ovariectomy
  • Progesterone receptor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Endocrinology
  • Food Animals


Dive into the research topics of 'Ovariectomy in young prepubertal dairy heifers causes complete suppression of mammary progesterone receptors'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this