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J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol. 2005 Feb;94(1-3):181-7.

Role of steroid hormones and prolactin in canine mammary cancer.

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  • 1Universidade de Trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro, Vila Real, Portugal.


In several animal studies, prolactin has been found to be essential for mammary epithelial development, and its administration has been consistently shown to increase the rate of mammary tumours. High levels of steroid hormones have also been suggested to enhance mammary cancer development. The present study investigates the levels of the following hormones in serum and in tissue homogenates in dogs bearing canine mammary tumours: prolactin (PRL), progesterone (P4), dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), androstenedione (A4), testosterone (T), 17beta-estradiol (17beta-E2) and estrone sulfate (S04E1). Eighty mammary tumours (40 dysplasias and benign and 40 malignant tumours) from 32 female dogs, and 10 normal mammary glands from eight female dogs without history of mammary tumours, were analysed. Prolactin and steroid hormones in serum and tissue homogenates, were analysed by enzyme immunoassays (EIA) techniques, previously validated for this animal species. Levels of prolactin in tissue homogenates were significantly different between malignant and benign mammary tumours (p<0.01). Serum prolactin concentrations were lower in the control group as compared with the group of dogs with benign tumours and in dogs with malignant tumours (p=0.01). Serum prolactin levels in dogs with benign lesions were not significantly different than those obtained from dogs with malignant tumours. Levels of steroid hormones were significantly higher in malignant tumours compared with the benign tumours and normal mammary glands (p<0.01) both in serum and homogenate determinations. Our results suggest that the canine neoplastic mammary gland could be a source of prolactin. Our hypothesis is that both prolactin and steroid hormones are involved in the growth of canine mammary cancer, and that they might have an autocrine/paracrine role in the maintenance of this disease.

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