Gut Health

Bovine colostrum biology 

It’s not human colostrum that holds the greatest potential for humans beyond the newborn stage but bovine colostrum, the first milk from dairy cows. This is due to the unique evolution of passive immunity transfer that happens early in a calf’s life.

 

Colostrum is an essential source of bioactive factors

In ruminants such as cows, there is no passive transfer of immunity from the mother to the offspring during pregnancy via the placenta, as found in humans. During the gestational period, the placenta of the cow separates the maternal and fetal blood supplies, preventing the transmission of immunoglobulins and other bioactive compounds to the fetus in utero. Consequently, the calf is agammaglobulinemic with no IgG at birth, and is therefore born without immunologic compounds in the blood and a critically immature and susceptible immune system. However, the colostrum provided by the cow after parturition is rich in immunoglobulins and other bioactive factors and nutrients to secure the survival of the calf.1,2

Bovine colostrum can play a major role in providing these immune and gut benefits through life in humans, among other diverse applications stemming from the same mechanisms.

Active uptake by the calf

After parturition, the calf needs to ingest all the components needed to mature the immune system, and it relies entirely on the provision of immunoglobulins in the colostrum provided by the cow. This requires transfer of immunoglobulins across the small intestine into the bloodstream during the first 24-48 hours in order to protect the calf against diseases until the immune system becomes fully developed.3

It is not only the presence of immunoglobulins that make the calves dependent upon colostrum, but also its contents of other immune components, cytokines, other nonspecific antimicrobials and nutrients.4 Colostrum is also important as it is the first natural nutrition for the calf, providing it with vital macro and micronutrients and the growth factors to finish the maturation of the gastrointestinal tract to utilize enteral food.5 Also, the colostrum can help prevent transmigration of pathogens and bacteria from the intestinal lumen of the calf.6

Colostrum timeline

Achieving an adequate amount of high-quality colostrum within the first few hours is widely recognized as the most important factor in the survival and wellbeing of the calf. Time is an especially important factor, as the gut wall of the calf changes as it becomes more mature and around 24 hours after birth uptake of larger molecules become decreases, and the concentration of bioactive factors in the colostrum decreases rapidly in the first few days after parturition.2

The production of colostrum by the cow actually begins several weeks before parturition. The concentrations of most bioactive factors, e.g. immunoglobulins, growth factors, anti-inflammatory factors, are highest in the colostrum provided by the cow in the first hours after calving, then decline steadily until reaching the levels found in mature milk.7-9

More colostrum is not better

When it comes to the passive transfer of immunoglobulins in the colostrum, more is not better, and when the calf has absorbed the necessary amounts, further provision does not provide the calf extra benefit.2 The calf needs 4-8 liters of colostrum to assure that an adequate amount of high quality colostrum is absorbed and to secure its immunity.10

The cow produces 10-15 liters of colostrum, 2-11 liters of colostrum are thus in surplus and may be used for other purposes.

Applications of colostrum components for human health

Bovine colostrum is especially known for the large amounts of immunoglobulins. The levels of immunoglobulins are about 100-times higher in bovine colostrum than mature bovine milk.5 The dominant immunoglobulin in bovine colostrum is IgG1, which makes up 85% of the total immunoglobulin content. Other immunoglobulins such as IgG2, IgM and IgA are present at lower concentrations than IgG1, but still in much higher concentrations than in mature milk.2,10,11

Other important bioactive components in colostrum are growth factors and antimicrobial factors. Growth factors promote the growth, development and rapid repair of different tissues in the newborn calf, especially in the gastrointestinal tract, while antimicrobial factors provide passive immunity and protect against infections. The antimicrobial activity of colostrum is due mostly to the immunoglobulins, although colostrum also contains other antimicrobial factors such as lactoferrin, lysozyme, defensins and oligosaccharides.5

Colostrum also contains anti-inflammatory factors that contribute to control of infections and inflammations. Bioactive oligosaccharides also help protect against pathogens and promote growth of beneficial bacteria flora in the gut lumen.12

The concentrations of bioactive factors are up to 40 times higher in bovine colostrum than mature bovine milk, whereas in human colostrum the concentrations are only up to five times higher. Bovine colostrum is thus more potent than human colostrum as a source of bioactive compounds and nutrition.8

Several studies have specifically reported an absence of adverse effects, and bovine colostrum is considered safe and well tolerated.12

 

References

  1. Larson BL, Heary HL, and Devery JE. Immunoglobulin production and transport by the mammary gland. J Dairy Sci. 1980;63:665-671.
  2. Weaver DM, Tyler JW, VanMetre DC, et al. Passive transfer of colostral immunoglobulins in calves. J Vet Intern Med. 2000;14:569-577.
  3. Godden S. Colostrum management for dairy calves. Vet Clin North Am Food Anim Pract. 2008;24:19-39.
  4. Barrington GM and Parish SM. Bovine neonatal immunology. Vet Clin North Am Food Anim Pract. 2001;17:463-76.
  5. Mero A, Miikkulainen H, et al. Effects of bovine colostrum supplementation on serum IGF-I, IgG, hormone, and saliva IgA during training. J Appl Physiol. 1997;83:1144-1151.
  6. Bush LJ and Staley TE. Absorption of colostral immunoglobulins in newborn calves. J Dairy Sci. 1980;63:672-680.
  7. Foley JA, Hunter AG, and Otterby DE. Absorption of colostral proteins by newborn calves fed unfermented, fermented, or buffered colostrum. J Dairy Sci. 1978;61:1450-1456.
  8. Kelly GS. Bovine colostrums: a review of clinical uses. Altern Med Rev. 2003;8:378-394.
  9. Moore M, Tyler JW, Chigerwe M, et al. Effect of delayed colostrum collection on colostral IgG concentration in dairy cows. J Am Vet Med Assoc. 2005;226:1375-1377.
  10. McGuirk SM and Collins M. Managing the production, storage, and delivery of colostrum. Vet Clin North Am Food Anim Pract. 2004;20:593-603.
  11. Kehoe SI, Jayarao BM, and Heinrichs AJ. A survey of bovine colostrum composition and colostrum management practices on Pennsylvania dairy farms. J Dairy Sci. 2007;90:4108-4116.
  12. Rathe M, Müller K, Sangild PT, and Husby S. Clinical applications of bovine colostrum therapy: a systematic review. Nutr Rev. 2014;72:237-254.

 

Gut Health

Bovine colostrum biology 

It’s not human colostrum that holds the greatest potential for humans beyond the newborn stage but bovine colostrum, the first milk from dairy cows. This is due to the unique evolution of passive immunity transfer that happens early in a calf’s life.

Colostrum is an essential source of bioactive factors

In ruminants such as cows, there is no passive transfer of immunity from the mother to the offspring during pregnancy via the placenta, as found in humans. During the gestational period, the placenta of the cow separates the maternal and fetal blood supplies, preventing the transmission of immunoglobulins and other bioactive compounds to the fetus in utero. Consequently, the calf is agammaglobulinemic with no IgG at birth, and is therefore born without immunologic compounds in the blood and a critically immature and susceptible immune system. However, the colostrum provided by the cow after parturition is rich in immunoglobulins and other bioactive factors and nutrients to secure the survival of the calf.1,2

Bovine colostrum can play a major role in providing these immune and gut benefits through life in humans, among other diverse applications stemming from the same mechanisms.

Active uptake by the calf

After parturition, the calf needs to ingest all the components needed to mature the immune system, and it relies entirely on the provision of immunoglobulins in the colostrum provided by the cow. This requires transfer of immunoglobulins across the small intestine into the bloodstream during the first 24-48 hours in order to protect the calf against diseases until the immune system becomes fully developed.3

It is not only the presence of immunoglobulins that make the calves dependent upon colostrum, but also its contents of other immune components, cytokines, other nonspecific antimicrobials and nutrients.4 Colostrum is also important as it is the first natural nutrition for the calf, providing it with vital macro and micronutrients and the growth factors to finish the maturation of the gastrointestinal tract to utilize enteral food.5 Also, the colostrum can help prevent transmigration of pathogens and bacteria from the intestinal lumen of the calf.6

Colostrum timeline

Achieving an adequate amount of high-quality colostrum within the first few hours is widely recognized as the most important factor in the survival and wellbeing of the calf. Time is an especially important factor, as the gut wall of the calf changes as it becomes more mature and around 24 hours after birth uptake of larger molecules become decreases, and the concentration of bioactive factors in the colostrum decreases rapidly in the first few days after parturition.2

The production of colostrum by the cow actually begins several weeks before parturition. The concentrations of most bioactive factors, e.g. immunoglobulins, growth factors, anti-inflammatory factors, are highest in the colostrum provided by the cow in the first hours after calving, then decline steadily until reaching the levels found in mature milk.7-9

More colostrum is not better

When it comes to the passive transfer of immunoglobulins in the colostrum, more is not better, and when the calf has absorbed the necessary amounts, further provision does not provide the calf extra benefit.2 The calf needs 4-8 liters of colostrum to assure that an adequate amount of high quality colostrum is absorbed and to secure its immunity.10

The cow produces 10-15 liters of colostrum, 2-11 liters of colostrum are thus in surplus and may be used for other purposes.

Applications of colostrum components for human health

Bovine colostrum is especially known for the large amounts of immunoglobulins. The levels of immunoglobulins are about 100-times higher in bovine colostrum than mature bovine milk.5 The dominant immunoglobulin in bovine colostrum is IgG1, which makes up 85% of the total immunoglobulin content. Other immunoglobulins such as IgG2, IgM and IgA are present at lower concentrations than IgG1, but still in much higher concentrations than in mature milk.2,10,11

Other important bioactive components in colostrum are growth factors and antimicrobial factors. Growth factors promote the growth, development and rapid repair of different tissues in the newborn calf, especially in the gastrointestinal tract, while antimicrobial factors provide passive immunity and protect against infections. The antimicrobial activity of colostrum is due mostly to the immunoglobulins, although colostrum also contains other antimicrobial factors such as lactoferrin, lysozyme, defensins and oligosaccharides.5

Colostrum also contains anti-inflammatory factors that contribute to control of infections and inflammations. Bioactive oligosaccharides also help protect against pathogens and promote growth of beneficial bacteria flora in the gut lumen.12

The concentrations of bioactive factors are up to 40 times higher in bovine colostrum than mature bovine milk, whereas in human colostrum the concentrations are only up to five times higher. Bovine colostrum is thus more potent than human colostrum as a source of bioactive compounds and nutrition.8

Several studies have specifically reported an absence of adverse effects, and bovine colostrum is considered safe and well tolerated.12

 

References

  1. Larson BL, Heary HL, and Devery JE. Immunoglobulin production and transport by the mammary gland. J Dairy Sci. 1980;63:665-671.
  2. Weaver DM, Tyler JW, VanMetre DC, et al. Passive transfer of colostral immunoglobulins in calves. J Vet Intern Med. 2000;14:569-577.
  3. Godden S. Colostrum management for dairy calves. Vet Clin North Am Food Anim Pract. 2008;24:19-39.
  4. Barrington GM and Parish SM. Bovine neonatal immunology. Vet Clin North Am Food Anim Pract. 2001;17:463-76.
  5. Mero A, Miikkulainen H, et al. Effects of bovine colostrum supplementation on serum IGF-I, IgG, hormone, and saliva IgA during training. J Appl Physiol. 1997;83:1144-1151.
  6. Bush LJ and Staley TE. Absorption of colostral immunoglobulins in newborn calves. J Dairy Sci. 1980;63:672-680.
  7. Foley JA, Hunter AG, and Otterby DE. Absorption of colostral proteins by newborn calves fed unfermented, fermented, or buffered colostrum. J Dairy Sci. 1978;61:1450-1456.
  8. Kelly GS. Bovine colostrums: a review of clinical uses. Altern Med Rev. 2003;8:378-394.
  9. Moore M, Tyler JW, Chigerwe M, et al. Effect of delayed colostrum collection on colostral IgG concentration in dairy cows. J Am Vet Med Assoc. 2005;226:1375-1377.
  10. McGuirk SM and Collins M. Managing the production, storage, and delivery of colostrum. Vet Clin North Am Food Anim Pract. 2004;20:593-603.
  11. Kehoe SI, Jayarao BM, and Heinrichs AJ. A survey of bovine colostrum composition and colostrum management practices on Pennsylvania dairy farms. J Dairy Sci. 2007;90:4108-4116.
  12. Rathe M, Müller K, Sangild PT, and Husby S. Clinical applications of bovine colostrum therapy: a systematic review. Nutr Rev. 2014;72:237-254.