Mammary epithelial cells have recently been shown to express and secrete leptin into milk and to accumulate triacylglycerol (TAG) in cytosol. We examined the effects on the accumulation of cytosolic TAG of free fatty acid addition to the medium bathing bovine mammary epithelial cells (bMEC). Both saturated (palmitic and stearic) and unsaturated (oleic and linoleic) fatty acids stimulated the accumulation of TAG in a concentration-dependent manner from 50 to 400 μM and the expression of mRNA expression for CD36, which is involved in the uptake and secretion of long-chain fatty acids. However, leptin mRNA expression and lipid droplet formation were significantly increased only by the addition of unsaturated, but not saturated, fatty acids. Interestingly, both types of fatty acids stimulated αs1-casein mRNA expression. These data suggest that the expression of leptin is related to droplet formation, whereas CD36 is related to cytosolic TAG accumulation, and that fatty acids or cytosolic TAG accumulation also have a role to accelerate differentiation of bMEC as shown by casein synthesis.
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