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Carcinogenesis. 1990 Oct;11(10):1849-55.

Effect of human chorionic gonadotropin on mammary gland differentiation and carcinogenesis.

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  • 1Department of Pathology, Michigan Cancer Foundation, Detroit 48201.


The observation that mammary carcinogenesis is inhibited in rats which completed a pregnancy prior to exposure to the chemical carcinogen 7,12-dimethylbenz[a]anthracene (DMBA) led us to determine whether the protective effect of pregnancy could be mimicked by treatment with the placental hormone chorionic gonadotropin (hCG). We also studied the effect of this treatment on mammary gland structure and differentiation, and determined whether hCG exerts toxic or collateral effects on body weight and endocrine organs. The systemic effect of hCG on body wt and endocrine organs and mammary gland was studied in outbred virgin Sprague-Dawley rats which at the age of 50 days started receiving 100 IU hCG i.p. daily for 21 days. The animals were subdivided into nine groups of five animals each; one group was killed on the first day of and the others at 5, 10, 15 and 21 days of injection and 5, 10, 15 and 21 days post injection. The effect of the hormonal treatment on the estrous cycle was determined by studying the vaginal smears taken during and after the injection period. The following parameters were determined: body wt, weight and morphology of pituitary gland, adrenals, ovaries and uterine horns. Mammary glands were processed for histology, autoradiography for determination of DNA labeling index (DNA-LI) and whole mount preparation for morphometric studies. The effect of hCG on mammary carcinogenesis was studied in two groups of virgin rats; group I, which at the age of 50 days started receiving a daily i.p. injection of 100 IU hCG for 21 days; 21 days after the last injection they were given 8 mg DMBA/100 g body wt. Group II animals received DMBA only. hCG treated animals gained weight as a function of age at the same rate as controls. Treatment did not modify the weight of adrenal glands. The weight of ovaries, uterus and pituitary gland were transitorily increased by the 15th day of treatment, but had returned to the same values of controls by the time of DMBA administration. Treatment stimulated mammary gland differentiation, measured as a progressive reduction in number of terminal end buds and increase in the number of alveolar buds and lobules. The DNA-LI was significantly depressed in all terminal structures in the glands of treated animals. In group I animals hCG treatment decreased incidence of adenocarcinomas to 6.15 from 43.8% in group II animals.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

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