It is well known that maternal stress during the gestation and lactation periods induces abnormal behavior in the offspring and causes a lowering of the offspring’s body weight. Various causes of maternal stress during the lactation period, relating to, for example, maternal nutritional status and reduced maternal care, have been considered. However, little is known about the effects on milk of maternal stress during the lactation period. The current study aimed to determine whether free amino acids, with special reference to sulfur-containing amino acids in milk, are altered by restraint stress in lactating mice. The dams in the stress group were restrained for 30 min at postnatal days 2, 4, 6, 8, 10 and 12. Restraint stress caused a reduction in the body weight of lactating mice. The concentration of taurine and cystathionine in milk was significantly higher in the stress group, though stress did not alter their concentration in maternal plasma. The ratio of taurine concentration in milk to its concentration in maternal plasma was significantly higher in the stress group, suggesting that stress promoted taurine transportation into milk. Furthermore, taurine concentration in milk was positively correlated with corticosterone levels in plasma. In conclusion, restraint stress in lactating mice caused the changes in the metabolism and in the transportation of sulfur-containing amino acids and resulted in higher taurine concentration in milk. Taurine concentration in milk could also be a good parameter for determining stress status in dams.
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