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Annu Rev Anim Biosci. 2013 Jan;1:179-202. doi: 10.1146/annurev-animal-031412-103632. Epub 2013 Jan 3.

Comparative aspects of mammary gland development and homeostasis.

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Bovine Functional Genomics Laboratory, US Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, Beltsville, Maryland 20705; email:


Mammary glands are crucial to the reproductive strategy of mammals, and the milk of domesticated ruminants serves as an important source of nutrients for the human population. The majority of mammary gland development occurs postnatally, and the mammary gland undergoes cyclical periods of growth, differentiation, lactation, and regression that are coordinated to provide nutrients for offspring or are driven by strategies to manage reproduction and milk production of domesticated species. Growth and maintenance of the mammary epithelium depends on the function of mammary stem cells and progenitor cells. In this review, we provide an overview of postnatal mammary gland development, cyclical phases of mammary gland regression (regression during lactation and between successive lactations), and mammary stem cells and progenitor cells. Where possible, these processes are related to animal production and compared across species, particularly bovine, porcine, murine, and human.


cell turnover; mammary development; mammary stem cells; progenitor cells

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