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Am J Pathol. 1991 Jun;138(6):1371-7.

Proliferation of normal breast epithelial cells as shown by in vivo labeling with bromodeoxyuridine.

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  • 1Department of Laboratory Medicine, University of California, San Francisco 94143-0808.


The proliferative activity of normal acinar and ductal breast epithelial cells was studied by in vivo labeling with 5-bromodeoxyuridine (BrdUrd) in 26 cases with concurrent breast carcinoma. The BrdUrd-labeled cells were recognized in histologic sections of paraffin-embedded tissue, using an anti-BrdUrd antibody and an immunoperoxidase reaction. The percentage of BrdUrd-labeled cells showed great variability for both acinar (0% to 2.66%; mean, 0.70%; standard deviation [SD], 0.80%) and ductal cells (0% to 1.99%; mean, 0.51%; SD, 0.57%). The fraction of proliferating epithelial cells declined with the age of the patients and was significantly higher in premenopausal women (1.16% +/- 0.85% for acinar and 0.94% +/- 0.60% for ductal cells) as compared with the postmenopausal women (0.27% +/- 0.46% for acinar and 0.17% +/- 0.22% for ductal cells), P less than 0.01 for acinar and P less than 0.001 for ductal cells, respectively. In some patients, great variability in distribution of proliferating acinar and ductal cells among different lobules and ducts was observed. No difference was found in the number of proliferating acinar and ductal cells situated near or far from their corresponding tumors. No correlation was seen between cell proliferation of normal acinar or ductal cells and cell proliferation of the respective tumors.

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