L-Arginine regulates protein turnover in porcine mammary epithelial cells to enhance milk protein synthesis. Academic Article uri icon


  • Milk is an important food for mammalian neonates, but its insufficient production is a nutritional problem for humans and other animals. Recent studies indicate that dietary supplementation with L-arginine (Arg) increases milk production in mammals, including sows, rabbits, and cows. However, the underlying molecular mechanisms remain largely unknown. The present study was conducted with porcine mammary epithelial cells (PMECs) to test the hypothesis that Arg enhances milk protein synthesis via activation of the mechanistic target of rapamycin (mTOR) cell signaling. PMECs were cultured for 4days in Arg-free basalmedium supplemented with 10, 50, 200, or 500mol/L Arg. Rates of protein synthesis and degradation in cells were determined with the use of L-[ring-2,4-3H]phenylalanine. Cell medium was analyzed for -casein and -lactalbumin, whereas cells were used for quantifying total and phosphorylated levels of mTOR, ribosomal protein S6 kinase (p70S6K), 4E-binding protein 1 (4EBP1), ubiquitin, and proteasome. Addition of 50-500mol/L Arg to culture medium increased (P<0.05) the proliferation of PMECs and the synthesis of proteins (including -casein and -lactalbumin), while reducing the rates of proteolysis, in a dose-dependent manner. The phosphorylated levels of mTOR, p70S6K and 4EBP1 were elevated (P<0.05), but the abundances of ubiquitin and proteasome were lower (P<0.05), in PMECs supplemented with 200-500mol/L Arg, compared with 10-50mol/L Arg. These results provide a biochemical basis for the use of Arg to enhance milk production by sows and have important implications for improving lactation in other mammals (including humans and cows).

published proceedings

  • Amino Acids

author list (cited authors)

  • Ma, Q., Hu, S., Bannai, M., & Wu, G.

citation count

  • 16

complete list of authors

  • Ma, Qingquan||Hu, Shengdi||Bannai, Makoto||Wu, Guoyao

publication date

  • May 2018