Breast Cancer Research and Treatment

, Volume 104, Issue 1, pp 57–66 | Cite as

A strong association between body fat mass and protein profiles in nipple aspirate fluid of healthy premenopausal non-lactating women

  • Yafei Huang
  • Manubai Nagamani
  • Karl E. Anderson
  • Alexander Kurosky
  • Anthony M. Haag
  • James J. Grady
  • Lee-Jane W. LuEmail author


Fluid can be aspirated from the nipples of most non-lactating women. This nipple aspirate fluid (NAF) is a potential source for the discovery of new breast cancer biomarkers. NAF has two distinct protein profiles. Type I NAF is similar to the fluid associated with cystic disease of the breast, whereas type II NAF is enriched in milk-associated proteins. The prevalence of these two profiles differs in healthy women and in breast cancer patients. This study investigated the relationship of these two NAF profiles to reproductive history, body composition, diet, and levels of lipids, steroids and thyroid hormones in healthy premenopausal women (age 30–40 years) who had regular menstrual cycles and normal mammograms and were not taking contraceptive medications. On average, women with the type I NAF profile were older, had more years since last childbirth, were less likely to have breastfed their babies and had higher dietary saturated fat intake, body mass index, body fat mass, and levels of plasma low density lipoproteins than women with the type II profile (P <0.05). Using multiple logistic regression, type I NAF was predicted independently (P <0.05) by higher body fat mass [Odds Ratio (OR) = 3.0; 95% Confidence Interval (CI): 1.5–6.1], more years since last childbirth (OR = 2.6; 95% CI: 1.3–5.2) and a higher percentage of calories from saturated fat (OR = 4.1; 95% CI: 1.1–14.6). These results suggest that protein profiles of NAF might be influenced by amounts or types of dietary and body fat, but further study of the relationship of the two profiles to breast cancer risk is needed.


breast cancer biomarker proteome obesity milk proteins gross cystic disease fluid proteins 



nipple aspirate fluid


zinc α2-glycoprotein


apolipoprotein D


gross cystic disease fluid protein 15 (prolactin-inducible protein)


body mass index


dual energy X-ray absorptiometry






thyroid stimulating hormone


high density lipoprotein


low density lipoprotein


very low density lipoprotein;


matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization-time of flight mass spectrometry.



We thank the staff of the GCRC at UTMB for nursing and dietary research assistance. Special thanks to study volunteers, Dr. Astrid Inniss for the analysis of food records, Dr. Marinel Ammenheuser for critical review of the manuscript, and the Mother’s Milk Bank at Austin for providing human breast milk samples.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yafei Huang
    • 1
  • Manubai Nagamani
    • 2
  • Karl E. Anderson
    • 1
  • Alexander Kurosky
    • 3
  • Anthony M. Haag
    • 3
  • James J. Grady
    • 1
  • Lee-Jane W. Lu
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Preventive Medicine and Community HealthThe University of Texas Medical BranchGalvestonUSA
  2. 2.Obstetrics and Gynecology The University of Texas Medical BranchGalvestonUSA
  3. 3.Biochemistry & Molecular BiologyThe University of Texas Medical BranchGalvestonUSA

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