Nipple aspirate fluids in adult nonlactating women — lactose content, cationic Na+, K+, Na+/K+ ratio, and coloration
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The presence of lactose in nipple secretions is considered biochemical evidence of breast secretory activity, and has been reported to occur more frequently in white compared to brownish or green colored breast fluid. We studied lactose, Na+, and K+ concentrations, the Na+/K+ ratio, and the coloration of nipple aspirate fluid (NAF) from 49 nonpregnant women.
A significant relationship was found between the concentrations of lactose, Na+, and K+, and age and the coloration of NAF. Lactose was present in 22/49 (44.8%) of the NAF samples and declined with age from 100% positivity in women ≤29 years to 29% in those ≤35 years. In NAF of deep yellow, brown and green colorations, only traces of lactose were found. Na+ and K+ increased with age and with darker colorations compared to white, pale yellow, or colorless NAF.
Lactose was present in NAF samples from both parous and nulliparous younger women, indicating that the breasts of many nonpregnant women respond to prolactin stimulation; hence, lactose may provide a simple marker indicating active physiologic secretory activity of the breast.
As reported previously, NAF of darker coloration, containing elevated levels of cholesterol, cholesterol oxidation products, and other substances, suggests retention and impaired reabsorption of these and other products of secretion. Because of the secretion and temporary retention by the breast glands of chemical substances of exogenous and endogenous origin, including mutagens and carcinogens, lactose concentration and coloration of NAF may be useful as markers of secretion and reabsorption in future physiologically based clinical and epidemiologic studies of the pathogenesis of breast disease.
Key wordsbreast coloration lactose Na+ K+ Na+/K+ ratio nipple aspirate fluid
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