Open Access
Vet. Res.
Volume 37, Number 3, May-June 2006
Mucosal immunology in domestic animals
Page(s) 369 - 400
Published online 23 February 2006
How to cite this article Vet. Res. (2006) 369-400
Vet. Res. 37 (2006) 369-400
DOI: 10.1051/vetres:2006007

Innate immunity of the bovine mammary gland

Pascal Rainard and Céline Riollet

Laboratoire de Pathologie Infectieuse et Immunologie, Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique, 37380 Nouzilly, France

(Received 17 May 2005; accepted 19 October 2005; published online 23 February 2006)

Abstract - Understanding the immune defenses of the mammary gland is instrumental in devising and developing measures to control mastitis, the major illness of dairy ruminants. Innate immunity is an extremely broad field for investigation, and despite decades of research, our present knowledge of the innate defenses of the udder is incomplete. Yet, information is being gained on the recognition of pathogens by the mammary gland, and on several locally inducible defenses. The contribution of mammary epithelial cells to local defenses and to the mobilization of leucocytes is under growing scrutiny. Interactions of mastitis-causing bacteria such as Escherichia coli or Staphylococcus aureus and the mammary gland represents a suitable model for studies on innate immunity at an epithelium frontier. Powerful new research tools are radically modifying the prospects for the understanding of the interplay between the mammary gland innate defenses and mastitis-causing bacteria: genetic dissection of the immune response, microarray gene technology, transcriptomic methodologies and gene silencing by RNA interference will make possible the discovery of several of the key defense mechanisms which govern the susceptibility/resistance to mastitis at the molecular and genetic levels. It should then be possible to enhance the resistance of dairy ruminants to mastitis through immunomodulation and genetic improvement.

Key words: mastitis / cattle / innate immunity / inflammation / milk

Corresponding author: Pascal Rainard

© INRA, EDP Sciences 2006