The relationship between size and lipid composition of the bovine milk fat globule is modulated by lactation stage

Ronit Mesilati-Stahy*, Nurit Argov-Argaman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Scopus citations


The effect of lactation stage and size on the lipid composition of bovine milk fat globules (MFG) and their membranes (MFGM) was investigated. MFG were separated into six size groups (1-3 μm) from samples collected in early, mid and late lactation stages (10-250 days postpartum). Fatty acid and polar lipid composition was determined in each size group, at each lactation stage. PUFA concentration was affected by lactation stage but not MFG size. Saturated fatty acid concentration at 60 days postpartum was 10% higher in small vs. large globules. Phosphatidylcholine and cholesterol followed the same concentration pattern throughout lactation in all MFG size groups. From day 100 postpartum on, phosphatidylethanolamine concentration was constant in the large MFG, but dropped twofold in the small MFG. Results suggest distinct compositional regulation for large and small MFG at different lactation stages. Such interactions between structure, composition and lactation stage may be exploited for human milk and dairy product consumption.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)562-570
Number of pages9
JournalFood Chemistry
StatePublished - 2014

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported in part by a research fund from the Israeli Dairy Board under Cooperative Agreement No. 0398201 and 0398200 , and the Israeli Agricultural Ministry’s Chief Scientist under Cooperative Agreement No. 0396768 . The authors would like to thank Dr. Kobi Meiri, New Processes Development Manager and Dr. Galina Biyevski, Research and Development Department, The Dairy Division, Tnuva, Rehovot, Israel for their assistance with the globule size analyses.


  • Fatty acid composition
  • Membrane
  • Milk fat globule
  • Phospholipid
  • Sphingomyelin


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