Single cell profiling of female breast fibroadenoma reveals distinct epithelial cell compositions and therapeutic targets

Nat Commun. 2023 Jun 16;14(1):3469. doi: 10.1038/s41467-023-39059-3.


Fibroadenomas (FAs) are the most common breast tumors in women. No pharmacological agents are currently approved for FA intervention owing to its unclear mechanisms and a shortage of reproducible human models. Here, using single-cell RNA sequencing of human FAs and normal breast tissues, we observe distinct cellular composition and epithelial structural changes in FAs. Interestingly, epithelial cells exhibit hormone-responsive functional signatures and synchronous activation of estrogen-sensitive and hormone-resistant mechanisms (ERBB2, BCL2 and CCND1 pathways). We develop a human expandable FA organoid system and observe that most organoids seem to be resistant to tamoxifen. Individualized combinations of tamoxifen with ERBB2, BCL2 or CCND1 inhibitors could significantly suppress the viability of tamoxifen-resistant organoids. Thus, our study presents an overview of human FA at single-cell resolution that outlines the structural and functional differences between FA and normal breast epithelium and, in particular, provides a potential therapeutic strategy for breast FAs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Breast Neoplasms* / drug therapy
  • Breast Neoplasms* / genetics
  • Breast Neoplasms* / pathology
  • Epithelial Cells / metabolism
  • Estrogens
  • Female
  • Fibroadenoma* / drug therapy
  • Fibroadenoma* / genetics
  • Fibroadenoma* / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-bcl-2
  • Tamoxifen / pharmacology
  • Tamoxifen / therapeutic use


  • Tamoxifen
  • Estrogens
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-bcl-2