Milk fat globule membrane proteins are involved in controlling the size of milk fat globules during conjugated linoleic acid-induced milk fat depression

J Dairy Sci. 2022 Nov;105(11):9179-9190. doi: 10.3168/jds.2022-22131. Epub 2022 Sep 27.


Milk fat globule membrane (MFGM) proteins surround the triacylglycerol core comprising milk fat globules (MFG). We previously detected a decrease in the size of fat globules during conjugated linoleic acid (CLA)-induced milk fat depression (MFD), and other studies have reported that some MFGM proteins play a central role in regulating mammary cellular lipid droplet size. However, little is known about the relationship between MFD, MFG size, and MFGM proteins in bovine milk. The aim of this study was to investigate the profile of MFGM proteins during MFD induced by CLA. Sixteen mid-lactating Holstein cows (145 ± 24 d in milk) with similar body condition and parity were divided into control and CLA groups over a 10-d period. Cows were fed a basal diet (control, n = 8) or control plus 15 g/kg of dry matter (DM) CLA (n = 8) to induce MFD. Cow performance, milk composition, and MFG size were measured daily. On d 10, MFGM proteins were extracted and identified by quantitative proteomic analysis, and western blotting was used to verify a subset of the identified MFGM proteins. Compared with controls, supplemental CLA did not affect milk production, DM intake, or milk protein and lactose contents. However, CLA reduced milk fat content (3.73 g/100 mL vs. 2.47 g/100 mL) and the size parameters volume-related diameter D[4,3] (3.72 μm vs. 3.35 μm) and surface area-related diameter D[3,2] (3.13 μm vs. 2.80 μm), but increased specific surface area of MFG (1,905 m2/kg vs. 2,188 m2/kg). In total, 177 differentially expressed proteins were detected in milk from cows with CLA-induced MFD, 60 of which were upregulated and 117 downregulated. Correlation analysis showed that MFG size was negatively correlated with various proteins, including XDH and FABP3, and positively correlated with MFG-E8, RAB19, and APOA1. The results provide evidence for an important role of MFGM proteins in regulating MFG diameter, and they facilitate a mechanistic understanding of diet-induced MFD.

Keywords: milk fat depression; milk fat globule; milk fat globule membrane protein; milk fat globule size.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cattle
  • Depression
  • Fatty Acids / metabolism
  • Female
  • Lactation
  • Lactose
  • Linoleic Acids, Conjugated* / pharmacology
  • Lipid Droplets / metabolism
  • Membrane Proteins
  • Milk Proteins / analysis
  • Pregnancy
  • Proteomics
  • Triglycerides


  • Linoleic Acids, Conjugated
  • milk fat globule
  • Lactose
  • Membrane Proteins
  • Fatty Acids
  • Milk Proteins
  • Triglycerides