Albumin is a well-characterized product of the liver. In the present study, objectives were to determine if the albumin gene is also expressed in various nonhepatic tissues in the bovine; whether mammary gland epithelial cells synthesize albumin; and how its synthesis is affected by bovine mastitis. Albumin expression was monitored using reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction. Tissues examined were: liver, mammary gland, tongue, intestine, lymph gland, testicle, ovary, and uterus. All tissues except the ovary expressed the albumin gene, albeit less so than the liver. The highest level of expression (other than liver) was found in the lymph nodes but expression was also found in the mammary gland. Incubation of mammary gland explants with the labeled amino acid L-[35S] methionine resulted in formation of labeled immunoprecipitable albumin, newly synthesized in the explant. Immunoprecipitable albumin in the medium verified that newly synthesized albumin was also secreted into the medium. This shows that the gland itself is a source of milk albumin. Albumin mRNA expression was approximately 4 times higher in mammary gland tissue from 6 mastitic cows compared with expression in mammary tissue from 6 healthy glands. Further, secretion of albumin was increased 3.5-fold from explants of mastitic mammary glands compared with secretion from explants of healthy mammary glands. Addition of lipopolysaccharide increased the synthesis and secretion of albumin in mammary gland cells in a dose-dependent manner. Exposure to lipopolysaccharide accelerated albumin synthesis in a time-dependent manner up to 48 h. These results lead us to suggest that the secretion of albumin by the mammary gland is part of the innate nonspecific defense system.
- Mammary gland