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In-vivo magnetic resonance imaging studies of mammogenesis in non-pregnant goats treated with exogenous steroids

  • Paul A. Fowler (a1), Christopher H. Knight (a2) and Margaret A. Foster (a1)


Mammogenesis and lactation were induced in five multiparous, non-pregnant goats by treatment with oestrogen and progesterone for 11 d, followed by dexamethasone for 3 d. Reserpine was administered during the last 5 d. All five goats lactated, although milk yield was less than had been achieved in previous natural lactations. Mammary development was assessed in vivo, using magnetic resonance imaging. Although parenchyma volume increased by more than 6-fold overall, only 25% of this increase occurred during steroid treatment. Most development took place after the cessation of treatment, when milking commenced. Maximum size was not achieved until week 8 of the induced lactation, and was only 70% of normal parenchyma volume. After 18 weeks lactation the activities of three key milk synthetic enzymes were very similar to values previously found in natural lactations, and secretion efficiency (milk production per unit volume of parenchyma) was also similar to that of natural lactations. We conclude that the lower than normal milk yields were associated with incomplete proliferation of mammary tissue, rather than inadequate differentiation of individual secretory cells.



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