Hormonal regulation of leucine catabolism in mammary epithelial cells. Academic Article uri icon


  • Branched-chain amino acids (BCAA) are actively taken up and catabolized by the mammary gland during lactation for syntheses of glutamate, glutamine and aspartate. Available evidence shows that the onset of lactation is associated with increases in circulating levels of cortisol, prolactin and glucagon, but decreases in insulin and growth hormone. This study determined the effects of physiological concentrations of these hormones on the catabolism of leucine (a representative BCAA) in bovine mammary epithelial cells. Cells were incubated at 37 C for 2 h in Krebs buffer containing 3 mM D-glucose, 0.5 mM L-leucine, L-[1-14C]leucine or L-[U-14C]leucine, and 0-50 U/mL insulin, 0-20 ng/mL growth hormone 0-200 ng/mL prolactin, 0-150 nM cortisol or 0-300 pg/mL glucagon. Increasing extracellular concentrations of insulin did not affect leucine transamination or oxidative decarboxylation, but decreased the rate of oxidation of leucine carbons 2-6. Elevated levels of growth hormone dose dependently inhibited leucine catabolism, -ketoisocaproate (KIC) production and the syntheses of glutamate plus glutamine. In contrast, cortisol and glucagon increased leucine transamination, leucine oxidative decarboxylation, KIC production, the oxidation of leucine 2-6 carbons and the syntheses of glutamate plus glutamine. Prolactin did not affect leucine catabolism in the cells. The changes in leucine degradation were consistent with alterations in abundances of BCAA transaminase and phosphorylated levels of branched-chain -ketoacid dehydrogenase. Reductions in insulin and growth hormone but increases in cortisol and glucagon with lactation act in concert to stimulate BCAA catabolism for glutamate and glutamine syntheses. These coordinated changes in hormones may facilitate milk production in lactating mammals.

published proceedings

  • Amino Acids

author list (cited authors)

  • Lei, J., Feng, D., Zhang, Y., Dahanayaka, S., Li, X., Yao, K., ... Wu, G.

citation count

  • 19

complete list of authors

  • Lei, Jian||Feng, Dingyuan||Zhang, Yongliang||Dahanayaka, Sudath||Li, Xilong||Yao, Kang||Wang, Junjun||Wu, Zhenlong||Dai, Zhaolai||Wu, Guoyao

publication date

  • September 2013