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Study Discovers Role of Inflammation in Lactation

16 July 2013
Uni Kansas State

GLOBAL – Inflammation is not a factor of disease in post-partum cows but a necessary and advantageous reaction to cope with milk production and metabolism, a Kansas State University study has discovered.

The discovery rewrites common conceptions around the nature of inflammation at the start of lactation.

Professor Barry Bradford explained the inflammatory reaction seen in the cow as helping the animal ‘shift gears’ as it enters another stage in its life.

"Rather than thinking of mild inflammation as a disease-inducing factor, we think there may be times during life where some inflammation is advantageous or necessary."

"The study improved our understanding of the re-prioritization process by suggesting that inflammatory pathways promote a temporary state of insulin resistance in dairy cows, resulting in conservation of glucose for use by the mammary gland," Professor Bradford.

Results suggest that inflammation-induced insulin resistance is in some cases an adaptive, rather than pathological, phenomenon.

Professor Bradford said it may help clarify why the links between inflammation and metabolism have survived the evolution process.

The study was funded by the US Department of Agriculture's National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

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