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Palatability of Goat’s versus Cow’s Milk: Insights from the Analysis of Eating Behavior and Gene Expression in the Appetite-Relevant Brain Circuit in Laboratory Animal Models

Faculty of Science and Engineering, University of Waikato, Hamilton 3240, New Zealand
Department of Food Science and Nutrition, University of Minnesota, St. Paul, MN 55113, USA
Dairy Goat Cooperative (NZ) Ltd., Hamilton 3206, New Zealand
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
The authors contributed equally to the finished manuscript.
Nutrients 2019, 11(4), 720;
Received: 11 February 2019 / Revised: 17 March 2019 / Accepted: 25 March 2019 / Published: 28 March 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Nutrition and Central Nervous System)
PDF [1397 KB, uploaded 28 March 2019]


Goat’s (GM) and cow’s milk (CM) are dietary alternatives with select health benefits shown in human and animal studies. Surprisingly, no systematic analysis of palatability or preference for GM vs. CM has been performed to date. Here, we present a comprehensive investigation of short-term intake and palatability profiles of GM and CM in laboratory mice and rats. We studied consumption in no-choice and choice scenarios, including meal microstructure, and by using isocaloric milks and milk-enriched solid diets. Feeding results are accompanied by qPCR data of relevant genes in the energy balance-related hypothalamus and brain stem, and in the nucleus accumbens, which regulates eating for palatability. We found that GM and CM are palatable to juvenile, adult, and aged rodents. Given a choice, animals prefer GM- to CM-based diets. Analysis of meal microstructure using licking patterns points to enhanced palatability of and, possibly, greater motivation toward GM over CM. Most profound changes in gene expression after GM vs. CM were associated with the brain systems driving consumption for reward. We conclude that, while both GM and CM are palatable, GM is preferred over CM by laboratory animals, and this preference is driven by central mechanisms controlling eating for pleasure. View Full-Text
Keywords: milk; hypothalamus; nucleus accumbens; reward; appetite; palatability milk; hypothalamus; nucleus accumbens; reward; appetite; palatability

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Klockars, A.; Wood, E.L.; Gartner, S.N.; McColl, L.K.; Levine, A.S.; Carpenter, E.A.; Prosser, C.G.; Olszewski, P.K. Palatability of Goat’s versus Cow’s Milk: Insights from the Analysis of Eating Behavior and Gene Expression in the Appetite-Relevant Brain Circuit in Laboratory Animal Models. Nutrients 2019, 11, 720.

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