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Int J Oncol. 2006 Feb;28(2):399-410.

Genomic signature induced by pregnancy in the human breast.

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Fox Chase Cancer Center, Philadelphia, PA 19111, USA.


We have postulated that the lifetime protective effect of an early pregnancy against breast cancer is due to the complete differentiation of the mammary gland characterized by a specific genomic signature imprinted by the physiological process of pregnancy. For demonstrating this hypothesis we compared the genomic profile of the epithelium and the stroma of normal breast tissues from reduction mammoplasties performed in postmenopausal parous and nulliparous women. The epithelium and the stroma were separately dissected using laser capture microdissection (LCM) and the RNA of each compartment and each sample was isolated, amplified using PCR methodology, and hybridized to cDNA glass-microarrays containing 40,000 human cDNA features. The separation of the epithelial compartment from the interlobular stroma of Lob 1 using LCM allowed us to determine that the epithelial component contained 4,828 genes that were equally expressed in both nulliparous and parous women. There were 73 known genes that included immune-modulation-, DNA repair-, programmed cell death-, chromatin remodeling- and transcription-related genes, whereas in the breast of nulliparous women there were 20 different known genes that were upregulated. Our data provide evidence that breast tissues of postmenopausal parous women express in both the epithelial and the stromal compartments numerous genes that differ significantly from those present in breast tissues of post-menopausal nulliparous women, which could be important contributors to the genomic signature induced by an early full term pregnancy.

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