University of Florida

Jimena Laporta, Ph.D.

Dr. Laporta conducts research in the area of mammary gland and lactation physiology.  Her laboratory uses cellular and whole animal models, and state-of-the-art molecular techniques to investigate how endocrine, autocrine and paracrine factors produced by the mammary gland, and their associated signaling pathways, might regulate lactation.

Research efforts in her laboratory are multifaceted but mostly centered on mammary-derived parathyroid hormone-related protein (PTHrP) and serotonin (5-HT), and the exploration of opportunities for manipulation of these pathways in the context of lactation.  As such, Dr. Laporta investigates the mechanism(s) by which mammary PTHrP regulates bone calcium mobilization, and how calcium is transfer from the maternal circulation through the mammary epithelial cells into the milk during lactation.  Her interest in this area is the development of novel approaches for the prevention of periparturient hypocalcemia (milk fever) in dairy cows through the manipulation of this mammary gland–bone axis.   Dr. Laporta is also interested in understanding how environmental factors, such as heat stress, alter normal cellular processes of the mammary gland.  Her research in this area explores the involvement of mammary 5-HT and its potential applications to alleviate the negative effects of heat stress on milk production.  Colostrum contains high amounts of PTHrP and moderate amounts of 5-HT, however their functions have never been examined.  Dr. Laporta investigates the role of these milk-borne factors on pre-weaned calves’ nutrition and their impacts on calf’s immunity, social and feeding behavior, mammary gland and bone development, and the potential impact these might have on their productivity and susceptibility to diseases later in life. 

The ultimate goal of Dr. Laporta’s research program is to integrate the knowledge of mammary gland physiology with advances in management, nutrition and reproduction to strengthen animal health, and increase the overall efficiency of milk production.

Representative Publications:

Laporta J and LL Hernandez (2014). Serotonin receptor expression is dynamic in the liver during the transition period in Holstein dairy cows. Domestic Animal Endocrinology, 51C:65-73.

Laporta J, Keil KP, Vezina CM, and Hernandez LL (2014). Peripheral serotonin regulates maternal calcium trafficking in mammary epithelial cells during lactation in mice. PLoS One, 9(10): e110190.

Laporta J, Keil KP, Weaver SR, Cronick CM, Prichard AP, Crenshaw TD, Heyne GW, Lipinski RJ, Vezina CM, and Hernandez LL (2014). Serotonin regulates calcium homeostasis in lactation by epigenetic activation of Hedgehog signaling. Molecular Endocrinology, 28(11):1866-74.

Laporta J, Astessiano AL, López-Mazz C, Soca P, Espasandin AC, and Carriquiry M (2014). Effects of herbage allowance of native grasslands in purebred and crossbred beef cows: metabolic, endocrine and hepatic gene expression profiles through the gestation–lactation cycle. Animal, 8(7):1119-1129.

Laporta J, Gross JJ, Crenshaw TD, Bruckmaier RM, and Hernandez LL (2014). Short Communication: Timing of first milking affects serotonin (5-HT) concentrations. Journal of Dairy Science 97(5):2944-2948.

Laporta J, Rosa GJM, Naya H, and Carriquiry M (2013). Functional genomics of the liver during gestation and lactation: novel genes and pathways revealed. Physiological Genomics, 46(4):138- 47.

Laporta J, Moore SAE, Peters MW, Peters TL and Hernandez LL (2013). Short communication: Circulating serotonin (5-HT) concentrations on day 1 of lactation as a potential predictor of transition-related disorders. Journal of Dairy Science, 96(8):5146-50.

Laporta J, Peters TL, Merriman KE, Vezina CM, and Hernandez LL (2013). Serotonin (5-HT) Affects Expression of Liver Metabolic Enzymes and Mammary Gland Glucose Transporters during the Transition from Pregnancy to Lactation. PLoS One, 8(2):e57847.

Laporta J, Peters TL, Weaver SR, Merriman KE, and Hernandez LL (2013). Feeding 5-hydroxy-l-tryptophan during the transition from pregnancy to lactation increases calcium mobilization from
bone in rats. Domestic Animal Endocrinology, 44(4):176-84.

Laporta J, Driver A, and Khatib H (2011). Short communication: Expression and alternative splicing of POU1F1 pathway genes in preimplantation bovine embryos. Journal of Dairy Science, 94(8):4220–4223.

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Jimena laporta, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Department of Animal Sciences
Ph.D., University of wisconsin-Madison