Identification and characterization of apelin peptides in bovine colostrum and milk by liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry

J Proteome Res. 2011 Nov 4;10(11):5222-31. doi: 10.1021/pr200725x. Epub 2011 Oct 13.


Apelin peptides were recently identified as endogenous ligands of the APJ receptor. It has been hypothesized that these peptides are initially provided to the newborn by nursing and might be involved in gastrointestinal tract development. As apelin peptides may have different effects on the APJ receptor as a function of their size, knowledge of their exact structure in early milk is essential to clarify their action in gastrointestinal tract development. Bovine colostrum is thought to contain high concentrations of a wide diversity of apelin peptides, but none of them have yet been rigorously characterized. To identify and monitor apelin peptides in bovine colostrum, we developed a cation exchange extraction step followed by untargeted liquid chromatography coupled to high resolution and high mass accuracy mass spectrometry (LTQ-Orbitrap). Using this approach, we characterized 46 endogenous apelin peptides in bovine colostrum, which varied in relative abundance from one colostrum to another. Mature as well as commercial milk samples were also studied. Taken together, our data demonstrate that the multiplicity and variability of apelin peptides are biologically relevant and change during milk maturation to reach a more constant composition in mature milk.

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Calibration
  • Cattle
  • Chromatography, Ion Exchange
  • Colostrum / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Fourier Analysis
  • Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins / chemistry
  • Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins / isolation & purification
  • Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins / metabolism*
  • Mass Spectrometry
  • Milk / metabolism*
  • Milk Proteins / chemistry
  • Milk Proteins / isolation & purification
  • Milk Proteins / metabolism*
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Protein Stability


  • Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins
  • Milk Proteins