The vascular network within the developing mammary gland (MG) grows in concert with the epithelium to prepare for lactation, although the mechanisms coordinating this vascular development are unresolved. Vascular endothelial growth factor A (VEGF-A) mediates angiogenesis and vascular permeability in the MG during pregnancy and lactation, where its expression is upregulated by prolactin. Given our previous finding that late-gestational hyperprolactinemia induced by domperidone (DOM) increased subsequent milk yield from gilts, we sought to establish changes in vascular development during late gestation and lactation in the MGs of these pigs and determine whether DOM altered MG angiogenesis and the factors regulating it. Gilts received either no treatment (n = 6) or DOM (n = 6) during late gestation, then had their MG biopsied from late gestation through lactation to assess microvessel density, VEGF-A distribution and messenger RNA expression, and aquaporin (AQP) gene expression. Microvessel density in the MG was unchanged during gestation then increased between days 2 and 21 of lactation (P <0.05). The local expression of messenger RNA for VEGF-A120, VEGF-A147, VEGF-A164, VEGF-A164b, VEGF-A188, VEGF receptors-1 and -2, and AQP1 and AQP3 all generally increased during the transition from gestation to lactation (P <0.05). Immunostaining localized VEGF-A to the apical cytoplasm of secretory epithelial cells, consistent with a far greater concentration of VEGF-A in colostrum and/or milk vs plasma (P <0.0001). There was no effect of DOM on any of the variables analyzed. In summary, we found that vascular development in the MG increases during lactation in first-parity gilts and that VEGF-A is a part of the mammary secretome. Although late-gestational hyperprolactinemia increases milk yield, there was no evidence that it altered vascular development.
- Mammary gland
- Vascular endothelial growth factor A
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Animal Science and Zoology
- Food Animals