Perinatal ethinyl oestradiol alters mammary gland development in male and female Wistar rats

Karen Mandrup, Ulla Hass, Sofie Christiansen, Julie Boberg

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Increased attention is being paid to human mammary gland development because of concerns for environmental influences on puberty onset and breast cancer development. Studies in rodents have showed a variety of changes in the mammary glands after perinatal exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals, indicating progressed development of mammary glands when exposed to oestrogens early in life. However, laboratories use different parameters to evaluate the development of mammary glands, making studies difficult to compare. Moreover, studies of whole mounts in Wistar rats are lacking. In the present study, Wistar rats were exposed to 0, 5, 15 or 50 μg/kg of ethinyl oestradiol per day during gestation and lactation. A wide range of morphological parameters were evaluated in whole mounts of mammary glands from male and female offspring PD21–22. This study showed that in both male and female pre‐pubertal Wistar rats, mammary gland development was accelerated after perinatal oestrogen exposure with increase in size, density and number of terminal end buds (TEBs). In female rats, the most sensitive parameters were the distance to the fifth gland, the relative growth towards the lymph node and the overall density. The sensitive endpoints in male rats were TEB numbers, both in the whole gland and in the zone C, the overall‐ and the highest density. The overall density was sensitive in both male and female rats and was considered a good representative of both branching and budding of the gland. The number of TEBs in zone C was representative of the number of TEBs in the whole gland. Further studies in older Wistar rats and with weak oestrogenic compounds could be performed to validate mammary gland examination as an endpoint in reproductive toxicity studies and to examine how early life environmental exposures may alter mammary gland development, disrupt lactation and alter susceptibility to breast cancer.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Andrology
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)385-396
Publication statusPublished - 2012


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