The investigation involved 4 mastitis-free cows, exposed to 168 h of suspended milking to induce prolonged milk stasis and premature mammary regression during mid-lactation. After 48 h the milk stasis elicited mastitis-like changes in the clinical, somatic cell count (SCC), bovine serum albumin (BSA) and beta-N-acetyl-D-glucosaminidase(NAG) characteristics of the udder secretions. Such changes in secretions from non-mastitic regressive mammary glands raise doubts about the present knowledge, definition, and diagnosis of so-called non-specific or aseptic mastitis. Determinations of fluctuating lacteal concentrations of lactose, galactose, mannose and glucose suggest that the secretory epithelium altered its metabolism and integrity in response to the intramammary perturbation by following a certain pattern of regressive adjustments which: (i) were apparently triggered during the initial24 h of perturbation by disturbed Na-K-ATPase activities, followed by a cascade of changes in ion regulation, carbohydrate metabolism and increased formation of lactic acid as a metabolic end-product; (ii) advanced in a stepwise fashion during 0-24, 24-72 and 72-168 h of perturbation from recognition response to alarm reactions and manifestation of regression respectively; (iii) showed that markedly decreased carbohydrate levels preceded major increases of the SCC, BSA and NAG values; (iv) indicated that after 72 h of milk stasis leucocytic infiltrations sharply increased the SCC to more than 500 000 per ml and accelerated the manifestation of regression. The results of this study imply that extensive premature regression of healthy, and especially, pre-irritated udders could have significant implications for the development of different types of bovine mastitis during lactation and should be further investigated.
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