Morphogenesis of mammary gland development

Adv Exp Med Biol. 2004;554:219-28. doi: 10.1007/978-1-4757-4242-8_19.


Development of the mammary gland in females is a dynamic, orchestrated process that occurs throughout postnatal development. Initiated during embryogenesis, epithelial cells advance into the underlying stromal matrix to form a primitive rudimentary structure. With the onset of puberty this anlage then responds to hormonal and local cues to rapidly establish a ductal network. Whereas in mice this network is relatively simple, in humans there is significantly more branching morphogenesis to develop terminal duct lobular unit structures. With the onset of pregnancy and associated changes in the hormonal and local environment, alveolar development progresses to establish a gland that is densely filled with alveolar structures by the end of pregnancy. Concomitantly, mammary epithelial cells within the gland begin to attain their unique ability to synthesize various milk constituents, such that by parturition, functional lactogenesis can be realized.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Breast / growth & development
  • Breast / physiology
  • Endocrinology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Mammary Glands, Animal / embryology
  • Mammary Glands, Animal / growth & development*
  • Mammary Glands, Animal / physiology*
  • Mammary Glands, Human / embryology
  • Mammary Glands, Human / growth & development*
  • Mammary Glands, Human / physiology*
  • Morphogenesis / physiology