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Adding value to rare tissue samples donated to biobanks: characterisation of breast tissue and primary cell cultures obtained from a female-to-male transgender patient

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Biobanks provide a window of opportunity to store and add value to material from rare cases allowing their future use in biomedical research. One such example is the opportunityto obtain good quality tissue from patients undergoing gender re-assignment. Following patient agreement to donate tissue samples to our biobank we catalogued the histological appearance, defined the expression of the hormone receptors ERα, PR, AR and the proliferation marker Ki67, and generated and characterised primary cell cultures in a female to male (FTM) transgender patient referred to our unit for surgery. Immunohistochemistry was performed for ERα, PR and AR and the proliferation marker Ki67. Hormone receptor expression was confined to epithelial cells lining the breast ducts. Ki67 immunoreactivity was sparse indicating little proliferation of luminal epithelium, consistent with normal mammary gland. Cultures of epithelial cells and fibroblasts were derived from surplus tissue. The latter lacked expression of epithelial markers and hormone receptors but exhibited expression of vimentin. Culture of the former on Matrigel saw an outgrowth of more rounded “epithelial-like” cells. Immunofluoresence characterisation showed a mixed phenotype with expression of vimentin and both myoepithelial and luminal epithelial markers. Sporadic weak ERα expression and moderate PR expression was seen. In summary, as well as routinely collecting tissue and blood samples, we have characterised and stored tissue and cells from a FTM transgender patient, adding value to this resource which,available from the Breast Cancer Campaign Tissue Bank for those interested in further studying the biology of FTM transgender tissue.

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This study was funded by Breast Cancer Campaign via the Breast Cancer Campaign Tissue Bank.

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Correspondence to Valerie Speirs.

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Millican-Slater, R., Good, R., Nash, C. et al. Adding value to rare tissue samples donated to biobanks: characterisation of breast tissue and primary cell cultures obtained from a female-to-male transgender patient. Cell Tissue Bank 16, 27–34 (2015).

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