Lactating goats were given a close arterial infusion of [1-14C]leucine and [4,5-3H]4-methyl-2-oxopentanoic acid into one half of the mammary gland at 2–3 weeks and 34–39 weeks after kidding. Rates of protein synthesis, degradation and net output were determined from measurements of arteriovenous difference and blood flow using a model of leucine metabolism previously developed for muscle (Oddy & Lindsay, 1986). Protein leucine output in milk (Y μmol/min) correlated well with the difference between synthesis and degradation (X μmol/min) derived from the model:
There was substantial synthesis and degradation of protein within the mammary gland. Although only an approximate value could be obtained for the partitioning of protein synthesis and degradation between tissue and milk proteins, there was evidence of appreciable turnover of both. There was no significant difference between mammary leucine and protein metabolism in early and late lactation other than that imparted by a greater mass of mammary tissue in early lactation, although there was a tendency for greater oxidation of leucine in late lactation.