Goat milk is less immunogenic than cow milk in a murine model of atopy

J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 2004 Oct;39(4):354-60. doi: 10.1097/00005176-200410000-00010.


Objectives: Cow milk protein allergy occurs in 2% to 6% of infants population. Goat milk has been used as an alternative to cow milk, but there is probably some cross-reactivity between the milks. Little is known about the allergenicity of goat milk per se. The aim of this study is to compare cow and goat milk allergenicity in a mouse atopy model.

Methods: Balb/C mice were intragastrically sensitized to cow or goat milk by five doses administrated weekly. Six weeks after the first dose mice were killed, sera were collected and spleens removed for analysis.

Results: The number of mice with diarrhea was significantly higher in the cow milk-sensitized group than in the goat milk-sensitized group. Serum cow milk-specific immunoglobulin G1 and histamine levels were also significantly higher in cow milk-sensitized mice. Cytokine production by spleen derived T cells showed a Th2 response with high levels of interleukin-4 production and low levels of interferon-gamma in cow milk-sensitized mice. In addition, goat milk induced a lower lymphocyte sensitization as a result of a significant decrease in the specific proliferation ratio of these cells.

Conclusion: Goat milk, when used as the first source of protein after a breast-feeding period, is less allergenic than cow milk in mice. Further studies are needed to clarify if goat milk is suitable as an alternative to cow milk in milk based formulas for infant nutrition.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Allergens / immunology*
  • Animals
  • Cattle*
  • Cell Division
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Cytokines / biosynthesis
  • Diarrhea / immunology
  • Female
  • Goats*
  • Histamine / blood
  • Immunoglobulin G / blood
  • Lymphocytes / immunology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Milk / immunology*
  • Milk Hypersensitivity / diagnosis
  • Milk Hypersensitivity / immunology*
  • Milk Proteins / administration & dosage
  • Milk Proteins / immunology*
  • Spleen / cytology


  • Allergens
  • Cytokines
  • Immunoglobulin G
  • Milk Proteins
  • Histamine