Rapid changes in Atlantic grey seal milk from birth to weaning – immune factors and indicators of metabolic strain

Lowe, A. D., Bawazeer, S., Watson, D. G., McGill, S., Burchmore, R. J.S., Pomeroy, P.P. (P.) and Kennedy, M. W. (2017) Rapid changes in Atlantic grey seal milk from birth to weaning – immune factors and indicators of metabolic strain. Scientific Reports, 7, 16093. (doi:10.1038/s41598-017-16187-7) (PMID:29170469) (PMCID:PMC5700954)

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Abstract

True seals have the shortest lactation periods of any group of placental mammal. Most are capital breeders that undergo short, intense lactations, during which they fast while transferring substantial proportions of their body reserves to their pups, which they then abruptly wean. Milk was collected from Atlantic grey seals (Halichoerus grypus) periodically from birth until near weaning. Milk protein profiles matured within 24 hours or less, indicating the most rapid transition from colostrum to mature phase lactation yet observed. There was an unexpected persistence of immunoglobulin G almost until weaning, potentially indicating prolonged trans-intestinal transfer of IgG. Among components of innate immune protection were found fucosyllactose and siallylactose that are thought to impede colonisation by pathogens and encourage an appropriate milk-digestive and protective gut microbiome. These oligosaccharides decreased from early lactation to almost undetectable levels by weaning. Taurine levels were initially high, then fell, possibly indicative of taurine dependency in seals, and progressive depletion of maternal reserves. Metabolites that signal changes in the mother’s metabolism of fats, such as nicotinamide and derivatives, rose from virtual absence, and acetylcarnitines fell. It is therefore possible that indicators of maternal metabolic strain exist that signal the imminence of weaning.

Item Type:Articles
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:McGill, Mrs Suzanne and Kennedy, Professor Malcolm and Burchmore, Dr Richard
Authors: Lowe, A. D., Bawazeer, S., Watson, D. G., McGill, S., Burchmore, R. J.S., Pomeroy, P.P. (P.), and Kennedy, M. W.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Infection Immunity and Inflammation
College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Life Sciences
Journal Name:Scientific Reports
Publisher:Nature Publishing Group
ISSN:2045-2322
ISSN (Online):2045-2322
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2017 The Authors
First Published:First published in Scientific Reports 7: 16093
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

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