Early Exposure to a High Fat/High Sugar Diet Increases the Mammary Stem Cell Compartment and Mammary Tumor Risk in Female Mice

Cancer Prev Res (Phila). 2017 Oct;10(10):553-562. doi: 10.1158/1940-6207.CAPR-17-0131. Epub 2017 Sep 13.


Obesity and alterations in metabolic programming from early diet exposures can affect the propensity to disease in later life. Through dietary manipulation, developing mouse pups were exposed to a hyperinsulinemic, hyperglycemic milieu during three developmental phases: gestation, lactation, and postweaning. Analyses showed that a postweaning high fat/high sugar (HF/HS) diet had the main negative effect on adult body weight, glucose tolerance, and insulin resistance. However, dimethylbenz[a]anthracene (DMBA)-induced carcinogenesis revealed that animals born to a mother fed a HF/HS gestation diet, nursed by a mother on a mildly diet-restricted, low fat/low sugar diet (DR) and weaned onto a HF/HS diet (HF/DR/HF) had the highest mammary tumor incidence, while HF/HF/DR had the lowest tumor incidence. Cox proportional hazards analysis showed that a HF/HS postweaning diet doubled mammary cancer risk, and a HF/HS diet during gestation and postweaning increased risk 5.5 times. Exposure to a HF/HS diet during gestation, when combined with a postweaning DR diet, had a protective effect, reducing mammary tumor risk by 86% (HR = 0.142). Serum adipocytokine analysis revealed significant diet-dependent differences in leptin/adiponectin ratio and IGF-1. Flow cytometry analysis of cells isolated from mammary glands from a high tumor incidence group, DR/HF/HF, showed a significant increase in the size of the mammary stem cell compartment compared with a low tumor group, HF/HF/DR. These results indicate that dietary reprogramming induces an expansion of the mammary stem cell compartment during mammary development, increasing likely carcinogen targets and mammary cancer risk. Cancer Prev Res; 10(10); 553-62. ©2017 AACRSee related editorial by Freedland, p. 551-2.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • 9,10-Dimethyl-1,2-benzanthracene / toxicity
  • Adiponectin / blood
  • Animals
  • Body Weight / physiology
  • Carcinogenesis / metabolism*
  • Diet, Fat-Restricted
  • Diet, High-Fat / adverse effects*
  • Dietary Sugars / adverse effects*
  • Feeding Behavior
  • Female
  • Insulin Resistance / physiology
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I / analysis
  • Lactation / metabolism
  • Leptin / blood
  • Mammary Glands, Animal / cytology
  • Mammary Glands, Animal / embryology*
  • Mammary Glands, Animal / pathology
  • Mammary Neoplasms, Animal / blood
  • Mammary Neoplasms, Animal / etiology*
  • Mammary Neoplasms, Animal / metabolism
  • Mammary Neoplasms, Animal / prevention & control
  • Mammary Neoplasms, Experimental / blood
  • Mammary Neoplasms, Experimental / chemically induced
  • Mammary Neoplasms, Experimental / metabolism*
  • Mammary Neoplasms, Experimental / prevention & control
  • Maternal Exposure / adverse effects
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred SENCAR
  • Obesity / etiology
  • Obesity / metabolism
  • Risk Factors
  • Stem Cells / pathology*
  • Time Factors


  • Adiponectin
  • Dietary Sugars
  • Leptin
  • insulin-like growth factor-1, mouse
  • 9,10-Dimethyl-1,2-benzanthracene
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I