Colostrum Composition

The initiation of mammary secretion (lactogenesis) consists of two stages.[1] The first stage takes place before birth and is characterized by accumulation of yellow, viscous, serumlike colostrum in the mammary glands. The second stage of lactogenesis takes place at or shortly after birth and is characterized by active synthesis of lactose in the mammary glands. Different secretory mechanisms of colostrum and milk are reflected in their chemical compositions (Tables 1 and 2).

Although wide species differences in colostrum composition exist, colostrum is generally more nutrient-dense and richer in bioactive compounds than mature milk. As shown in Table 1, colostrum contains much more protein than milk. The protein in colostrum consists mainly of immunoglobulins (Table 2). The immunoglobulins are further divided into three subgroups, i.e., Immunoglobulin G (IgG), Immunoglobulin A (IgA), and Immunoglobulin M (IgM). In colostrum, IgG is the predominant immunoglobulin, whereas in milk IgA is the predominant immunoglobulin. In addition to immunoglo-bulins, colostrum contains various anti-infection agents (e.g., lactoferrin, lysozyme, lactoperoxidase, live lymphocytes, and oligosaccharides), digestive enzymes (e.g., lipase and amylase), hormones (e.g., insulin and cortisol), growth factors [e.g., epidermal growth factor (EGF), insulin-like growth factor I (IGF-I), insulin-like growth factor II (IGF-II), transforming growth factor (TGF)-ß1, and TGF-ß2], and other bioactive peptides. More detailed analyses of colostrum composition can be found in the references listed at the end of this article.

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