Mammary-Specific Ablation of the Calcium-Sensing Receptor During Lactation Alters Maternal Calcium Metabolism, Milk Calcium Transport, and Neonatal Calcium Accrual

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Abstract

To meet the demands for milk calcium, the lactating mother adjusts systemic calcium and bone metabolism by increasing dietary calcium intake, increasing bone resorption, and reducing renal calcium excretion. As part of this adaptation, the lactating mammary gland secretes PTHrP into the maternal circulation to increase bone turnover and mobilize skeletal calcium stores. Previous data have suggested that, during lactation, the breast relies on the calcium-sensing receptor (CaSR) to coordinate PTHrP secretion and milk calcium transport with calcium availability. To test this idea genetically, we bred BLG-Cre mice with CaSR-floxed mice to ablate the CaSR specifically from mammary epithelial cells only at the onset of lactation (CaSR-cKO mice). Loss of the CaSR in the lactating mammary gland did not disrupt alveolar differentiation or milk production. However, it did increase the secretion of PTHrP into milk and decreased the transport of calcium from the circulation into milk. CaSR-cKO mice did not show accelerated bone resorption, but they did have a decrease in bone formation. Loss of the mammary gland CaSR resulted in hypercalcemia, decreased PTH secretion, and increased renal calcium excretion in lactating mothers. Finally, loss of the mammary gland CaSR resulted in decreased calcium accrual by suckling neonates, likely due to the combination of increased milk PTHrP and decreased milk calcium. These results demonstrate that the mammary gland CaSR coordinates maternal bone and calcium metabolism, calcium transport into milk, and neonatal calcium accrual during lactation.

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