Reduction in apoptosis relative to mitosis in histologically normal epithelium accompanies fibrocystic change and carcinoma of the premenopausal human breast

J Pathol. 1992 May;167(1):25-32. doi: 10.1002/path.1711670106.


The aims of this study in 227 premenopausal women were (a) to determine the mitotic index (MI), the thymidine labelling index (LI), and the apoptotic index (AI) within the epithelial cells of histologically 'normal' human breast biopsy material removed away from the site of either a fibroadenoma or a carcinoma; and (b) to relate differences in the kinetic indices of the 'normal' epithelium to the pathology in the same breast diagnosed as fibroadenoma alone (125 patients), fibroadenoma with accompanying mild fibrocystic change (79 patients), or carcinoma (23 patients). Ratios of the average indices (AI/MI, AI/LI, MI/LI) were also calculated to minimize uncertainties related to the total cell population counted, the denominator in the LI, MI, and AI. All indices and ratios of indices were corrected for age, averaged over the cycle, and expressed as log-transformed values for analysis. Significant (P less than 0.001) reductions in AI and in apoptosis relative to mitosis (reduced AI/MI) were found in 'normal' epithelium from breasts having fibrocystic change (AI = 0.17 +/- 0.02; AI/MI = 1.01 +/- 0.18) and carcinoma (AI = 0.19 +/- 0.04; AI/MI = 0.88 +/- 0.29), compared with breast with fibroadenoma alone (AI = 0.27 +/- 0.03; AI/MI = 1.29 +/- 0.39). In the absence of significant differences in MI and LI between the 'normal' tissue groups, this finding raises the possibility that reduced epithelial cell apoptosis might be causally associated with the development of fibrocystic change and with an increased risk of development of carcinoma.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adenofibroma / pathology*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Breast / pathology*
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Cell Death
  • Epithelial Cells
  • Epithelium / pathology
  • Female
  • Fibrocystic Breast Disease / pathology
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Mitotic Index
  • Thymidine


  • Thymidine