Mammary gland morphological and gene expression changes underlying pregnancy protection of breast cancer tumorigenesis.
ABSTRACT A full-term pregnancy early in life reduces lifetime risk of developing breast cancer, and the effect can be mimicked in rodents by full-term pregnancy or short-term treatment with exogenous estrogen and progesterone. To gain insight into the protective mechanism, 15 3-mo-old postpubertal virgin Lewis rats were randomly assigned to three groups: control (C), pregnancy (P), or hormone (H). The P group animals underwent a full-term pregnancy, and H group animals were implanted subcutaneously with silastic capsules filled with ethynyl estradiol and megesterol acetate for 21 days. C and P animals were implanted with sham capsules. On day 21 capsules were removed, which was followed by a 49-day involution period, euthanasia, and mammary tissue collection. Global gene expression was measured using Rat Genome 230.2 Arrays. Histological analysis revealed that P and H treatments induced sustained morphological changes in the mammary gland with significantly increased percentages of mammary parenchyma and stromal tissues and higher ratio of stroma to parenchyma. Transcriptome analysis showed that P and H treatments induced sustained global changes in gene expression in the mammary gland. Analysis of commonly up- and downregulated genes in P and H relative to C treatment showed increased expression of three matrix metallopeptidases (Mmp3, 8, and 12), more differentiated mammary phenotype, enhanced innate and adaptive immunity, and reduced cell proliferation and angiogenic signatures. The sustained morphological and global gene expression changes in mammary tissue after pregnancy and hormone treatment may function together to provide the protective effect against breast cancer.
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ABSTRACT: A postpartum diagnosis of breast cancer is an independent predictor of metastases, however the reason is unknown. In rodents, the window of postpartum mammary gland involution promotes tumor progression, suggesting a role for breast involution in the poor prognosis of human postpartum breast cancers. Rodent mammary gland involution is characterized by the programmed elimination of the secretory lobules laid down in preparation for lactation. This tissue involution process involves massive epithelial cell death, stromal remodeling, and immune cell infiltration with similarities to microenvironments present during wound healing and tumor progression. Here, we characterize breast tissue from premenopausal women with known reproductive histories to determine the extent, duration and cellular mechanisms of postpartum lobular involution in women. Adjacent normal breast tissues from premenopausal women (n = 183) aged 20 to 45 years, grouped by reproductive categories of nulliparous, pregnant and lactating, and by time since last delivery were evaluated histologically and by special stain for lobular area, lobular type composition, apoptosis and immune cell infiltration using computer assisted quantitative methods. Human nulliparous glands were composed dominantly of small (approximately 10 acini per lobule) and medium (approximately 35 acini per lobule) sized lobules. With pregnancy and lactation, a >10 fold increase in breast epithelial area was observed compared to nulliparous cases, and lactating glands were dominated by mature lobules (>100 acini per lobule) with secretory morphology. Significant losses in mammary epithelial area and mature lobule phenotypes were observed within 12 months postpartum. By 18 months postpartum, lobular area content and lobule composition were indistinguishable from nulliparous cases, data consistent with postpartum involution facilitating regression of the secretory lobules developed in preparation for lactation. Analyses of apoptosis and immune cell infiltrate confirmed that human postpartum breast involution is characterized by wound healing-like tissue remodeling programs that occur within a narrowed time frame. Human postpartum breast involution is a dominant tissue-remodeling process that returns the total lobular area of the gland to a level essentially indistinguishable from the nulliparous gland. Further research is warranted to determine whether the normal physiologic process of postpartum involution contributes to the poor prognosis of postpartum breast cancer.Breast cancer research: BCR 03/2014; 16(2):R31. · 5.87 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: The breast of parous postmenopausal women exhibits a specific signature that has been induced by a full term pregnancy. This signature is centered in chromatin remodeling and the epigenetic changes induced by methylation of specific genes which are important regulatory pathways induced by pregnancy. Through the analysis of the genes found to be differentially methylated between women of varying parity, multiple positions at which beta-catenin production and use is inhibited were recognized. The biological importance of the pathways identified in this specific population cannot be sufficiently emphasized because they could represent a safeguard mechanism mediating the protection of the breast conferred by full term pregnancy.Genes. 01/2014; 5(1):65-83.
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ABSTRACT: Pregnancy and its effects on breast cancer risk have been widely investigated; there is consensus among researchers that early pregnancy confers protection against breast cancer later in life, whereas nulliparity and late-age parity have been associated with increased risk of developing breast cancer. The answer to the question of how pregnancy reduces breast cancer risk has been elusive; however, pregnancy, like breast cancer, is a similar hormone-dependent entity under direct control of estrogen, progesterone and, of particular importance, human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG). In this report, we emphasize the main changes, previously described by our laboratory, in morphology and gene expression levels of the mammary gland of Sprague-Dawley rats exposed to known cancer-preventative conditions (pregnancy, hCG and progesterone + estrogen). In addition, we postulate a protective mechanism induced by hCG that could reduce the cell's potential to be transformed by carcinogens.Breast cancer management. 07/2013; 2(4):283-294.