species: mouse

The Many Lives of Fat Cells

The Many Lives of Fat Cells

People obsess about fat. Many have much more fat than they need deposited in various locations in the body and it threatens both health and fashion. Fat has now developed a bad reputation. In times gone by, a bit of extra fat meant a lifesaving energy reserve in times of food scarcity. Indeed, the metabolism we have inherited from our ancestors was originally fine-tuned to suit the feast or famine lifestyle of the past; however, it is not suitable for most people in today’s world where food abundance is the norm. Fat is a simple thing, or so we thought. There have been several surprises of late. Read More...

A Human Milk Oligosaccharide Protects Against Intestinal Infection and Inflammation

A Human Milk Oligosaccharide Protects Against Intestinal Infection and Inflammation

Sugars found in human milk, called human milk oligosaccharides (HMOs), have various protective effects against intestinal infections. A new study finds that the HMO 2'-fucosyllactose (2'-FL) protects against infection and inflammation caused by the pathogen Campylobacter jejuni. Read More...

Tasmanian Devil Milk Provides Powerful Antibacterial Proteins

Tasmanian Devil Milk Provides Powerful Antibacterial Proteins

The Tasmanian devil is best known for being a swirling, growling, trouble-making cartoon character. But the marsupial mammal's reputation is about to get a complete makeover, thanks to new research on the function of proteins secreted in their milk and their skin. Read More...

Maternal Milk Antibodies Prepare Newborn Mice to Host Commensal Gut Microbes

Maternal Milk Antibodies Prepare Newborn Mice to Host Commensal Gut Microbes

Our immune system protects us from many harmful microbes, but in doing so it needs to be able to differentiate between friend and foe. Our bodies harbor many beneficial gut bacteria that play important roles in digestion and immunity, and our immune system needs to react differently to these microbes compared with harmful pathogens. Read More...

Prolactin: One Hormone, Many Effects

Prolactin: One Hormone, Many Effects

Hormones are the body’s bike messengers, carrying important information from the endocrine glands (e.g., thyroid, pituitary, ovaries) to tissues throughout the body. Whereas GPS helps bike messengers find their intended recipients, hormones know they have found their target tissue when they are able to bind to hormonal receptors attached to a cell’s surface. Like a key fitting into a lock, hormones only bind to their specific receptor. Turning the key and opening the receptor’s lock allows the hormone to deliver its message to the cell, which responds by taking a particular action. The lactation hormone prolactin (PRL) has more than one target tissue, with prolactin receptors (PRLR) found in mammary glands, intestines, kidneys, ovaries, and even the heart. Mammary gland cells respond to PRL’s signal by secreting milk and initiating lactation, whereas cells of the intestines respond by increasing their absorption of calcium. How does the same hormonal signal result in the delivery of such different messages? Read More...

De-stressing with Dairy

De-stressing with Dairy

When, a few years ago, researchers analyzed fecal samples from volunteer undergraduates at Swinburne University of Technology, in Victoria, Australia, they didn’t necessarily expect to find evidence of the students’ examination stress. Yet the fecal lactic acid levels—reflecting the amount of “good bacteria” of the genus Lactobacillus in the students’ guts—took a dive during the exam period. In other words, exam stress had caused the volunteers’ intestines to become more favorable environments to pathogenic organisms. As the exams went on, things only got worse: the researchers observed day-by-day reductions in the undergraduates’ fecal lactic acid levels. This couldn’t have been because exam-period diets were messing with the students’ health—the only significant dietary change was an increase in coffee consumption. Read More...

Medicating the Elderly with Night Milk

Medicating the Elderly with Night Milk

Elderly people often have trouble sleeping. For those afflicted, it’s more than mere annoyance: insomnia in old age is associated with a range of health difficulties. What’s worse, many medications that are commonly prescribed to elderly people only add to the problem—including beta blockers, which treat hypertension. This is because they lower the levels of a hormone called melatonin. Yet, melatonin levels can be increased by consuming foodstuffs that are rich in them. One key source is milk collected from cows in the middle of the night. Read More...

Kefir Microorganisms Break Down Milk Proteins

Kefir Microorganisms Break Down Milk Proteins

Kefir is a fermented dairy drink that is becoming increasingly popular in the United States and has been shown to have beneficial health effects. The drink is made by incubating heat-treated milk with “kefir grains,” which contain sugars, proteins, lactic acid bacteria, and yeast. The kefir microorganisms are known to ferment milk lactose, but it is still unclear how they affect milk proteins and whether they break these proteins down into peptides. Read More...

Prolactin Targets Intestines Too

Prolactin Targets Intestines Too

Prolactin (PRL) is a hormone that, as its name clearly indicates, PROmotes LACTation. Although it is best known for initiating milk production in the mammary glands, prolactin actually targets numerous other tissues throughout the body during lactation. One important target is the gut, where prolactin is believed to influence calcium absorption. A new study confirms this hypothesis, demonstrating that prolactin increases the ability of the intestines to absorb calcium and transfer it to the bloodstream. These important findings show that although PRL may have the important job of telling the mammary glands to make milk, it also plays a critical role in making sure that milk has all of the necessary ingredients. Read More...

Creating Therapeutic Yogurt for Treatment of Arthritis

Creating Therapeutic Yogurt for Treatment of Arthritis

Consuming dairy products, such as milk or yogurt, is known to be good for general health. New research may make dairy products even more beneficial by enabling them to treat certain autoimmune diseases such as arthritis. Read More...