The role of glucocorticoids in secretory activation and milk secretion, a historical perspective

J Mammary Gland Biol Neoplasia. 2007 Dec;12(4):293-304. doi: 10.1007/s10911-007-9055-3. Epub 2007 Nov 14.


In this review we present our current understanding of the role of glucocorticoids in secretory activation and milk secretion by looking at the literature from a historical perspective. We begin with the early endocrine ablation experiments and continue from there to show that glucocorticoids are not just necessary for secretory activation and milk secretion--but mandatory. Specifically, we discuss the importance of glucocorticoids to: (1) induce the formation of ultrastructural components necessary to support milk synthesis and secretion, including rough endoplasmic reticulum and tight junction sealing; (2) regulate milk protein gene expression; and (3) prevent the second phase of involution, possibly by preventing the breakdown of the extracellular matrix.

Publication types

  • Historical Article
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Colostrum / metabolism
  • Glucocorticoids / history*
  • Glucocorticoids / metabolism*
  • History, 20th Century
  • History, 21st Century
  • Humans
  • Lactation
  • Mammary Glands, Animal / metabolism
  • Mammary Glands, Human / metabolism
  • Milk / history
  • Milk / metabolism*
  • Milk, Human / metabolism*


  • Glucocorticoids