Mammary involution and breast cancer risk: transgenic models and clinical studies

J Mammary Gland Biol Neoplasia. 2009 Jun;14(2):181-91. doi: 10.1007/s10911-009-9123-y. Epub 2009 Apr 30.


Postlactational involution is the process following weaning during which the mammary gland undergoes massive cell death and tissue remodeling as it returns to the pre-pregnant state. Lobular involution is the process by which the breast epithelial tissue is gradually lost with aging of the mammary gland. While postlactational involution and lobular involution are distinct processes, recent studies have indicated that both are related to breast cancer development. Experiments using a variety of rodent models, as well as observations in human populations, suggest that deregulation of postlactational involution may act to facilitate tumor formation. By contrast, new human studies show that completion of lobular involution protects against subsequent breast cancer incidence.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Animals
  • Breast / cytology
  • Breast / physiology*
  • Breast Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology
  • Breast Neoplasms / physiopathology
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic
  • Epithelial Cells / cytology
  • Female
  • Forecasting
  • Humans
  • Lactation / physiology*
  • Mammary Glands, Animal / cytology
  • Mammary Glands, Animal / physiology*
  • Mammary Neoplasms, Experimental / pathology
  • Matrix Metalloproteinases / physiology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Middle Aged
  • Phenotype
  • Pregnancy
  • Risk


  • Matrix Metalloproteinases