Genes & Nutrition

, Volume 4, Issue 2, pp 83–94

Mammary gland zinc metabolism: regulation and dysregulation

  • Shannon L. Kelleher
  • Young Ah Seo
  • Veronica Lopez

DOI: 10.1007/s12263-009-0119-4

Cite this article as:
Kelleher, S.L., Seo, Y.A. & Lopez, V. Genes Nutr (2009) 4: 83. doi:10.1007/s12263-009-0119-4


Zinc (Zn) is required for numerous metabolic processes serving both a structural and catalytic role. The mammary gland has a unique Zn requirement resulting from the need to also transfer an extraordinary amount of Zn into milk (~0.5–1 mg Zn/day) during lactation. Impairments in this process can result in severe Zn deficiency in the nursing offspring which has adverse consequences with respect to growth and development. Moreover, dysregulated mammary gland Zn metabolism has recently been implicated in breast cancer transition, progression and metastasis, thus there is a critical need to understand the molecular mechanisms which underlie these observations. Tight regulation of Zn transporting mechanisms is critical to providing an extraordinary amount of Zn for secretion into milk as well as maintaining optimal cellular function. Expression of numerous Zn transporters has been detected in mammary gland or cultured breast cells; however, understanding the molecular mechanisms which regulate mammary Zn metabolism as well as the etiology and downstream consequences resulting from their dysregulation is largely not understood. In this review, we will summarize the current understanding of the regulation of mammary gland Zn metabolism and its regulation by reproductive hormones, with a discussion of the dysregulation of this process in breast cancer.


Breast cancer Estrogen Lactation Mammary gland Prolactin Zinc transporter 

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Shannon L. Kelleher
    • 1
  • Young Ah Seo
    • 2
  • Veronica Lopez
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Nutritional SciencesThe Pennsylvania State UniversityUniversity ParkUSA
  2. 2.Department of Nutritional SciencesThe Pennsylvania State UniversityUniversity ParkUSA
  3. 3.Department of Nutritional SciencesThe Pennsylvania State UniversityUniversity ParkUSA

Personalised recommendations