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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Neoplastic transformation of mammary epithelial cells in rats is associated with decreased apoptotic cell death.

Previous studies have shown that terminal end buds (TEBs) in the murine mammary gland have high proliferative activity and demonstrate apoptotic cell death (ACD). Since TEBs are considered the place of origin of most chemically induced mammary carcinomas, we hypothesized that the development of hyperplastic and premalignant (carcinoma in situ, CIS) lesions in TEBs is associated with either a further increase in cell proliferation and/or with a decrease in ACD. To test this hypothesis we used the N-methyl-N-nitorosourea (MNU) carcinogenesis model in rats, where the occurrence of mammary tumors is preceded by hyperplastic and premalignant lesions arising mostly in TEBs, as well as in ducts and alveoli. The percentage of proliferating cells, as evaluated by 5-bromodeoxyuridine labeling (BrdU-LI), was similar in TEBs to those in terminal endbud hyperplasia (TEBH), CIS, and carcinomas (CA), whereas the percentage of apoptotic cells (apoptotic index, AI) was relatively high in TEBs and decreased in TEBH, CIS, and CA. This indicates that neoplastic transformation of mammary epithelial cells in TEBs is not associated with an increase in cell proliferation, but with a decrease in ACD. In addition to TEBH, hyperplastic lesions developed in ductal branching areas (ductal hyperplasia, DH) and alveolar structures (alveolar hyperplasia, AH). However, BrdU-LI in both DH and AH was lower than in TEBH, whereas the AI values were similar, suggesting that TEBH has a higher potential for progression and malignant transformation than DH and AH. In mammary tumors apoptotic cells were rare in the peripheral, proliferative areas, but frequent close to the necrotic areas, suggesting that intratumoral factors may significantly affect ACD. Thus, it appears that dissociation between cell proliferation and apoptosis occurs in the hyperplastic stages of mammary carcinogenesis and that neoplastic transformation of mammary epithelial cells is associated with decreased ACD but not with increased cell proliferation.[1]


  1. Neoplastic transformation of mammary epithelial cells in rats is associated with decreased apoptotic cell death. Shilkaitis, A., Green, A., Steele, V., Lubet, R., Kelloff, G., Christov, K. Carcinogenesis (2000) [Pubmed]
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