Evaluating chemical effects on mammary gland development: A critical need in disease prevention

Reprod Toxicol. 2015 Jul:54:148-55. doi: 10.1016/j.reprotox.2014.07.077. Epub 2014 Aug 1.


Although understanding the environmental factors that contribute to breast cancer could improve disease prevention, standard chemical testing protocols do not adequately evaluate chemicals' effects on breast development. Evidence suggests: (1) mammary gland (MG) development is a complex process that extends from gestation through fetal and neonatal growth, puberty, and pregnancy; (2) altered MG development can increase the risk of breast cancer and other adverse outcomes; and (3) chemical exposures during susceptible windows of development may alter the MG in ways that increase risk for later disease. Together, these highlight the need to better understand the complex relationship between exposure to endocrine disrupting compounds (EDCs) and the alterations in MG morphology and gene expression that ultimately increase disease risk. Changing guideline toxicity testing studies to incorporate perinatal exposures and MG whole mounts would generate critical knowledge about the effects of EDCs on the MG and could ultimately inform disease prevention.

Keywords: Breast cancer; Development; Endocrine disrupting compounds; Mammary gland; Toxicity testing.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Animals
  • Breast Neoplasms / chemically induced*
  • Breast Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology
  • Breast Neoplasms / prevention & control
  • Carcinogenicity Tests
  • Carcinogens, Environmental / toxicity*
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic / chemically induced
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic / genetics
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic / metabolism
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic / pathology
  • Disease Susceptibility
  • Endocrine Disruptors / toxicity*
  • Environmental Exposure / adverse effects
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic / drug effects
  • Gestational Age
  • Humans
  • Mammary Glands, Animal / drug effects*
  • Mammary Glands, Animal / growth & development
  • Mammary Glands, Animal / metabolism
  • Mammary Glands, Animal / pathology
  • Mammary Glands, Human / drug effects*
  • Mammary Glands, Human / growth & development
  • Mammary Glands, Human / metabolism
  • Mammary Glands, Human / pathology
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects
  • Research Design*
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Sexual Development
  • Time Factors


  • Carcinogens, Environmental
  • Endocrine Disruptors