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Anatomy and Physiology of the Breast

  • Martha C. Johnson
  • Mary L. CutlerEmail author
Chapter

Abstract

The mammary gland is classified as a branched tubuloalveolar structure with hormone-responsive lobules surrounded by a loose connective tissue stroma. The glands making up the breast are embedded in adipose tissue separated by bands of connective tissue. The breast is unique in that it completes the majority of its development after birth undergoing hormonally regulated changes during puberty. It varies moderately during each menstrual cycle, develops additionally during pregnancy, and differentiates following parturition during the process of lactation. The breast regresses after lactation to a much less differentiated state through the process of involution, which occurs following each cycle of pregnancy, parturition, and lactation. Following reduction of estrogen and progesterone at menopause, the breast involutes, reverting to a near prepubertal structure. These complex developmental processes are controlled by a combination of hormonal stimulation, growth factors, and other physical elements constituting the microenvironment of the mammary gland.

Keywords

Breast Mammary Development Mammary alveoli Lactation Involution Hormone (Estrogen, growth hormone, gonadotropin-releasing hormone, prolactin, oxytocin) 

Abbreviations

BCL-2

B-cell CLL/lymphoma 2

BRCA1

Breast cancer 1

BM

Basement membrane

BrdU

Bromodeoxyuridine

CD

Cluster of differentiation

CSF

Colony-stimulating factor

CTGF

Connective tissue growth factor

DES

Diethylstilbestrol

ECM

Extracellular matrix

EGF

Epidermal growth factor

EGFR

Epidermal growth factor receptor

ER

Estrogen receptor

FGF

Fibroblast growth factor

FSH

Follicle-stimulating hormone

GH

Growth hormone

GnRH

Gonadotropin-releasing hormone

hCG

Human chorionic gonadotropin

HGF

Hepatocyte growth factor

HIF

Hypoxia-inducible factor

HPG

Hypothalamic–pituitary–gonadal

hPL

Human placental lactogen

ICC

Interstitial cell of Cajal

IgA

Immunoglobulin A

IGF

Insulin-like growth factor

IGFBP

IGF-binding protein

IgM

Immunoglobulin M

IR

Insulin receptor

Jak

Janus kinase

Ki67

A nuclear antigen in cycling cells

LH

Luteinizing hormone

MMPs

Matrix metalloproteinases

OXT

Oxytocin

PR

Progesterone receptor

PRL

Prolactin

PRLR

Prolactin receptor

PTH

Parathyroid hormone

PTHrP

Parathyroid hormone-related peptide

Sca

Stem cell antigen

SP

Side population

Stat

Signal transducer and activator of transcription

TDLU

Terminal ductal lobular unit

TEB

Terminal end bud

Notes

Acknowledgments

We remain extremely grateful to colleagues for their critical reading of the original chapter, and we again thank Richard Conran, M.D. Ph.D., J.D., and Stephen Rothwell, Ph.D., for providing specimens for the micrographs included herein.

Disclaimer

The opinions or assertions contained herein are the private ones of the authors and are not to be construed as official or reflecting the views of the Department of Defense or the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences.

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© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Anatomy, Physiology and GeneticsUniformed Services UniversityBethesdaUSA
  2. 2.Department of PathologyUniformed Services UniversityBethesdaUSA

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