Send to:

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol. 1996 Jan;57(1-2):67-71.

New insights in the molecular mechanism of progestin-induced proliferation of mammary epithelium: induction of the local biosynthesis of growth hormone (GH) in the mammary glands of dogs, cats and humans.

Author information

  • 1Department of Clinical Sciences of Companion Animals, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Utrecht University, The Netherlands.


In contrast to the protective, anti-proliferative, action of progestins on the development of endometrium cancer, progestins may have local stimulatory and inhibitory effects on the proliferation of mammary epithelium. Until now there was no final molecular explanation of this discrepancy. Prolonged treatment of dogs with depot medroxyprogesterone acetate (DPMA) or with proligestone (PROL) results in enhanced plasma concentrations of growth hormone (GH), insulin-like growth factor (IGF)-I, IGF-II and IGF-binding proteins, together with the development of benign mammary tumours. The stimulated plasma GH levels do not have the typical pulsatile secretion pattern, and are not sensitive to stimulation with GHRH or to inhibition with somatostatin. The autonomous secretion can be inhibited by the anti-progestin RUU-486. The source of progestin-induced plasma GH levels has been demonstrated to be the canine mammary gland where progestins induce the expression of the gene encoding GH. The expression of the GH gene is restricted to focal areas of hyperplastic epithelium as shown by immunohistochemistry, and is predominantly located in single positive epithelial cells with an intermediate position between luminal- and myo-epithelium. Progestin-induced fibroadenomatous changes in the mammary gland of cats are also associated with locally enhanced GH expression. In both normal, benign and malignant mammary tumours of humans GH mRNA expression has been demonstrated by RT-PCR. The presence of GH mRNA is associated with the presence of immunoreactive GH as shown by immunohistochemistry. Sequence analysis revealed 100% homology to the pituitary expressed GH gene. In malignant mammary tumours of humans and dogs GH expression is also found in specimens negative for progesterone receptors as measured by ligand binding. It is concluded that the gene encoding GH is expressed in the mammary gland of a variety of species, including man. This appears to represent a contribution to the molecular explanation of the action of progestins on proliferation of mammary epithelium. It needs, however, to be proven whether this local biosynthesis of GH in the mammary gland is the cause of the local stimulatory effect of progestins on the proliferation of mammary epithelium.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk