The bovine mammary gland expresses multiple functional isoforms of serotonin receptors

Laura L. Hernandez, Sean W. Limesand, Jayne L. Collier, Nelson D. Horseman, Robert J. Collier

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Scopus citations


Recent studies in dairy cows have demonstrated that serotonergic ligands affect milk yield and composition. Correspondingly, serotonin (5-HT) has been demonstrated to be an important local regulator of lactational homeostasis and involution in mouse and human mammary cells. We determined the mRNA expression of bovine 5-HT receptor (HTR) subtypes in bovine mammary tissue (BMT) and used pharmacological agents to evaluate functional activities of 5-HT receptors. The mRNAs for five receptor isoforms (HTR1B, 2A, 2B, 4, and 7) were identified by conventional real-time (RT)-PCR, RT quantitative PCR, and in situ hybridization in BMT. In addition to luminal mammary epithelial cell expression, HTR4 was expressed in myoepithelium, and HTR1B, 2A, and 2B were expressed in small mammary blood vessels. Serotonin suppressed milk protein mRNA expression (α-lactalbumin and β-casein mRNA) in lactogen-treated primary bovine mammary epithelial cell (BMEC) cultures. To probe the functional activities of individual receptors, caspase-3 activity and expression of α-lactalbumin and β-casein were measured. Both SB22489 (1B antagonist) and ritanserin (2A antagonist) increased caspase-3 activity. Expression of α-lactalbumin and β-casein mRNA levels in BMEC were stimulated by low concentrations of SB224289, ritanserin, or pimozide. These results demonstrate that there are multiple 5-HT receptor isoforms in the bovine mammary gland, and point to profound differences between serotonergic systems of the bovine mammary gland and the human and mouse mammary glands. Whereas human and mouse mammary epithelial cells express predominately the protein for the 5-HT7 receptor, cow mammary epithelium expresses multiple receptors that have overlapping, but not identical, functional activities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)123-131
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Endocrinology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Oct 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Endocrinology


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