species: rat

Take It Easy: Neonatal Milk Hormones Influence Infant Social and Cognitive Behavior

Take It Easy: Neonatal Milk Hormones Influence Infant Social and Cognitive Behavior

Email, texts, IM, Facebook, Instagram—in the age of social media, there is no shortage of ways to send a message from one person to another. But is mother’s milk the original social network? Many of milk’s ingredients are believed to act as signaling factors that convey a “message” from mother to infant. Over the last decade, researchers have worked on decoding these messages, with a particular focus on the hormone cortisol. Milk cortisol levels are associated with infant growth and infant temperament in rhesus macaques, and hypothesized to send the message to be more cautious and prioritize growth over behavioral activity. A newly published study expands on this hypothesis and tests whether milk cortisol levels during the first weeks of life predict behavior and cognitive performance months later. The results suggest that far from being an instant messenger, milk’s signal may have effects well after it is received. Read More...

Gut Check: Polyamines in Human Milk Are Essential for Intestinal Maturation

Gut Check: Polyamines in Human Milk Are Essential for Intestinal Maturation

Putrescine, spermine, and spermidine may not have the most appetizing names, but these amino-acid derived molecules (called polyamines) are ingredients of all mammal milks. The presence of polyamines in milk is not surprising—putrescine, spermine, and spermidine are manufactured by all mammalian body cells, including mammary tissue. But polyamines are not accidental milk ingredients, passed on simply because they are ubiquitous in mammalian cells. Research from human and non-human animal models demonstrates that optimal nutrient absorption, the composition of the intestinal microbiome, and even food allergy may all depend on a sufficient supply of polyamines during the neonatal period. Milk polyamines, although odd in name, are essential for the proper maturation of the gastrointestinal tract in humans and other mammals. Read More...

Milk’s Bioactive Ingredients Help Wounds Heal Faster

Milk’s Bioactive Ingredients Help Wounds Heal Faster

They say time heals all wounds. But can milk help those wounds heal faster? Noting milk's ability to stimulate and support the development of an infant's immune system, researchers posed the simple, but elegant, hypothesis that milk could accelerate the healing process by enhancing the body's immune response. 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...

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...

Training Your Body to Digest Lactose

Training Your Body to Digest Lactose

The common understanding of the inability to properly digest lactose is that it’s all about genetics: either a particular gene in cells lining your upper intestine—which enables everyone to digest lactose as an infant—becomes inactive as you grow up, or it doesn’t. But the truth is less cut and dry. In fact, there is some recent and gathering evidence to suggest that those who suffer the symptoms of lactose intolerance could be better off by frequently consuming small quantities of the sugar that bothers them. Read More...

Lactating Helps Rats Remember

Lactating Helps Rats Remember

If you were to stop strangers on the street and ask them whether pregnancy and breastfeeding enhances or diminishes memory, some might lean towards an old wives’ tale: pregnancy is supposed to bring with it an underperforming or shrunken brain[1]. But why would this make sense from the point of view of evolution? Recently, researchers working on spatial memory in rats have made the point that it doesn’t. Instead, they have found that a specific kind of memory, called ‘object-in-place’ memory, actually improves over the course of having and nurturing an infant. Read More...

Breastfeeding Improves Mother’s Cardiovascular Health

Breastfeeding Improves Mother's Cardiovascular Health

How does breastfeeding alter the odds of developing cardiac diseases later in life? Recently, a small spurt of papers has filled in some important details on this matter. Together, they find that breastfeeding generally promotes a healthy heart. Read More...

Maternal High Fat Diet: Consequences for Young.

Maternal High Fat Diet: Consequences for Young.

Mothers know that they are eating for two during pregnancy and lactation- but more is not always better. In a recent paper, Mendes-da-Silva and colleagues conducted an experiment to understand how the diet a mother consumed affected offspring development (2014). Read More...