Toward a digital analysis of environmental impacts on rodent mammary gland density during critical developmental windows

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Article, Peer-reviewed

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While mammographic breast density is associated with breast cancer risk in humans, there is no comparable surrogate risk measure in mouse and rat mammary glands following various environmental exposures. In the current study, mammary glands from mice and rats subjected to reproductive factors and exposures to environmental chemicals that have been shown to influence mammary gland development and/or susceptibility to mammary tumors were evaluated for histologic density by manual and automated digital methods. Digital histological density detected changes due to hormonal stimuli/reproductive factors (parity), dietary fat, and exposure to environmental chemicals, such as benzophenone-3 and a combination of perfluorooctanoic acid and zeranol. Thus, digital analysis of mammary gland density offers a high throughput method that can provide a highly reproducible means of comparing a measure of histological density across independent experiments, experimental systems, and laboratories. This methodology holds promise for the detection of environmental impacts on mammary gland structure in mice and rats that may be comparable to human breast density, thus potentially allowing comparisons between rodent models and human breast cancer studies.

Keywords: benzophenone-3; breast cancer; digital histology; high fat diet; mammary density; parity; perfluorooctanoic acid; zeranol.