Mammary Stem Cells, Self-Renewal Pathways, and Carcinogenesis

Breast Cancer Res. 2005;7(3):86-95. doi: 10.1186/bcr1021. Epub 2005 Mar 30.

Abstract

The mammary gland epithelial components are thought to arise from stem cells that undergo both self-renewal and differentiation. Self-renewal has been shown to be regulated by the Hedgehog, Notch, and Wnt pathways and the transcription factor B lymphoma Mo-MLV insertion region 1 (Bmi-1). We review data about the existence of stem cells in the mammary gland and the pathways regulating the self-renewal of these cells. We present evidence that deregulation of the self-renewal in stem cells/progenitors might be a key event in mammary carcinogenesis. If 'tumor stem cells' are inherently resistant to current therapies, targeting stem cell self-renewal pathways might provide a novel approach for breast cancer treatment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Breast Neoplasms / physiopathology*
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Mammary Glands, Human / cytology*
  • Receptors, Notch / physiology
  • Signal Transduction
  • Stem Cells / physiology*
  • Trans-Activators / physiology
  • Transcription Factors / physiology
  • Wnt Proteins / physiology

Substances

  • Receptors, Notch
  • Trans-Activators
  • Transcription Factors
  • Wnt Proteins