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Breast Cancer Res. 2002;4(5):191-6. Epub 2002 Jul 5.

Progesterone's role in mammary gland development and tumorigenesis as disclosed by experimental mouse genetics.

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Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas 77030, USA.


The progesterone receptor knockout mouse demonstrated progesterone's importance to parity-induced mammary tertiary branching and lobuloalveologenesis. Because early parity provides significant protection against breast cancer whereas prolonged exposure to premenopausal ovarian progesterone (or to postmenopausal supplementations thereof) has been linked to breast cancer risk, this steroid can be considered to exhibit contrasting roles in breast cancer etiology. This review describes the important mouse models that have contributed to our understanding of progesterone's role in mammary gland development and neoplasia. We conclude by emphasising the urgent need to identify the molecular targets of the progesterone receptor, and to determine whether these targets are modulated differently by the progesterone receptor isoforms (A and B) during mammary morphogenesis and tumorigenesis.

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