Microenvironment of the Involuting Mammary Gland Mediates Mammary Cancer Progression

  • Pepper SchedinEmail author
  • Jenean O’Brien
  • Michael Rudolph
  • Torsten Stein
  • Virginia Borges


Breast cancer diagnosed after a completed pregnancy has higher metastatic potential and therefore a much poorer prognosis. We hypothesize that following pregnancy the process of mammary gland involution, which returns the gland to its pre-pregnant state, co-opts some of the programs of wound healing. The pro-inflammatory milieu that results, while physiologically normal, promotes tumor progression. In this review, the similarities between mammary gland involution after cessation of milk-production and pathological tissue remodeling are discussed in light of emerging data demonstrating a role for pathological tissue remodeling in cancer.


Breast cancer Collagen Fibronectin Matrix-turnover Metastasis 



extracellular matrix


transforming growth factor beta




laminin 1


laminin 5


matrix metalloproteinase


connective tissue growth factor





This work was supported by the National Cancer Institute R01 CA85944, the Department of Defense BC051532 and a grant from the Butcher Family Foundation to P.S.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Pepper Schedin
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
    Email author
  • Jenean O’Brien
    • 2
  • Michael Rudolph
    • 3
  • Torsten Stein
    • 5
  • Virginia Borges
    • 2
    • 6
  1. 1.AMC Cancer Research CenterUniversity of Colorado Health Science CenterAuroraUSA
  2. 2.Department of Medicine, Division of Medical OncologyUniversity of Colorado Health Science CenterAuroraUSA
  3. 3.Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Division of Reproductive SciencesUniversity of Colorado Health Science CenterAuroraUSA
  4. 4.Department of Cell and Developmental BiologyUniversity of Colorado Health Science CenterAuroraUSA
  5. 5.Division of Cancer Sciences and Molecular Pathology, Western InfirmaryUniversity of GlasgowGlasgowUK
  6. 6.University of Colorado Cancer CenterUniversity of Colorado Health Science CenterAuroraUSA

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