Invited Review: Growth-promoting Effects of Colostrum in Calves Based on Interaction With Intestinal Cell Surface Receptors and Receptor-Like Transporters

J Dairy Sci. 2016 Jun;99(6):4111-4123. doi: 10.3168/jds.2015-9741. Epub 2016 Feb 10.


The postnatal development and maturation of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract of neonatal calves is crucial for their survival. Major morphological and functional changes in the calf's GI tract initiated by colostrum bioactive substances promote the establishment of intestinal digestion and absorption of food. It is generally accepted that colostrum intake provokes the maturation of organs and systems in young calves, illustrating the significance of the cow-to-calf connection at birth. These postnatal adaptive changes of the GI tissues in neonatal calves are especially induced by the action of bioactive substances such as insulin-like growth factors, hormones, or cholesterol carriers abundantly present in colostrum. These substances interact with specific cell-surface receptors or receptor-like transporters expressed in the GI wall of neonatal calves to elicit their biological effects. Therefore, the abundance and activity of cell surface receptors and receptor-like transporters binding colostral bioactive substances are a key aspect determining the effects of the cow-to-calf connection at birth. The present review compiles the information describing the effects of colostrum feeding on selected serum metabolic and endocrine traits in neonatal calves. In this context, the current paper discusses specifically the consequences of colostrum feeding on the GI expression and activity of cell-receptors and receptor-like transporters binding growth hormone, insulin-like growth factors, insulin, or cholesterol acceptors in neonatal calves.

Keywords: cell surface receptor; cow-to-calf connection; digestive tract; mammary gland; perinatal period.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn* / growth & development
  • Cattle
  • Colostrum / chemistry*
  • Female
  • Immunoglobulin G
  • Insulin / blood
  • Receptors, Cell Surface
  • Somatomedins


  • Immunoglobulin G
  • Insulin
  • Receptors, Cell Surface
  • Somatomedins