Inhibition of oxytocin release and milk let-down in postpartum primiparous cows is not abolished by naloxone

Wolf Dieter Kraetzl, Vladimir Tancin, Dieter Schams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


About 10% of primiparous cows have no milk ejection during the first milkings after delivery. Therefore, 17 Brown Swiss dairy cows in their first lactation were used to evaluate the extent of disturbed milk let-down and the corresponding oxytocin (OT) plasma values in the 1st 5 days after delivery. The first milking was 9-22 h after parturition and served for classification of the cows to groups with inhibited (INH), bimodal (BIMO) or normal (NOR) milk let-down. The OT plasma levels before the start of manual teat stimulation and machine milking were comparably high during the first milking especially in NOR and BIMO cows. Ten minutes before the second milking (M2), 300 mg of the opioid antagonist naloxone was injected to test whether the disturbance was affected by the action of endogenous opioids on the neurohypophysis. The milk yield was not influenced by the naloxone treatment, and the INH cows had milk ejection only after a vaginal stimulation. Afterwards, the cows were milked twice every day, until the milk let-down and the OT release were unaffected (equal to control milking). Then, at the next milking, the cows were injected with 300 mg morphine 10 min before milking. The central OT release in response to manual teat stimulation and machine milking was completely blocked in all cows, but a vaginal stimulation was able to abolish this block, at least partially, in 16 cows. Thus, morphine produced a milk let-down characteristic as in the INH cows during the first three milkings. For the following milking, the cows were pre-treated with 300 mg naloxone (-15 min) plus 300 mg morphine (-10 min) before milking. The OT release and the milk yields were unaffected when compared with the control milking. This experiment demonstrates that exogenous opioids can affect the central release of OT in a naloxone-reversible manner even very soon after parturition. However, endogenous opioids are probably not the main mediators of disturbed central OT release and alveolar milk ejection in post-partum primiparous cows.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)559-568
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Dairy Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 2001


  • Cow
  • Morphine
  • Naloxone
  • Oxytocin
  • Post-partum
  • Primiparous


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