Invited Review: Reevaluating how mastitis reduces milk yield: Discussion of competitive substrate utilization



      The objective of this review was to discuss the factors that contribute to milk yield losses during mastitis with a specific focus on the substrate demands of activated immune cells.


      Peer-reviewed journal articles are the main literature source discussed.


      Mastitis in the lactating cow is a common and expensive disease that reduces the quality and quantity of milk produced. These losses have been recognized for decades, but the underlying contributing factors remain to be fully elucidated. During a mastitis event, activated immune cells are recruited to the mammary gland. The metabolic demands of an activated immune response have recently become clearer, and it has been recognized that there is a significant glucose demand by the immune system. In the instance of mastitis, activated immune cells are spatially located among secretory mammary cells. This localization of the immune cells is suspected to reduce the amount of substrates (glucose and AA) available for milk synthesis by having these same substrates be used for immune cell functions (production of reactive oxygen species and antibodies). This competition for substrates is proposed as a contributing mechanism that reduces milk yield during mastitis.

      Conclusions and Applications

      The significance of this effect indicates that efforts to improve milk production by increasing nutrient intake and availability are expected to be hindered by activated local immune cells competing for substrates. Conversely, future research should investigate whether activated immune cell function is limited due to substrate availability in the lactating mammary gland.

      Key words

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