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Open Access Research article

Columnar cell lesions of the canine mammary gland: pathological features and immunophenotypic analysis

Enio Ferreira1, Helenice Gobbi2, Bruna S Saraiva1 and Geovanni D Cassali1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Pathology, Biological Sciences Institute, Federal University of Minas Gerais, Av. Antônio Carlos, 6627, Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, 31270-901, Brazil

2 Department of Anatomic Pathology, School of Medicine, Federal University of Minas Gerais, Av. Alfredo Balena, 190, Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, 30150-270, Brazil

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BMC Cancer 2010, 10:61  doi:10.1186/1471-2407-10-61

Published: 23 February 2010



It has been suggested that columnar cell lesions indicate an alteration of the human mammary gland involved in the development of breast cancer. They have not previously been described in canine mammary gland. The aim of this paper is describe the morphologic spectrum of columnar cell lesions in canine mammary gland specimens and their association with other breast lesions.


A total of 126 lesions were subjected to a comprehensive morphological review based upon the human breast classification system for columnar cell lesions. The presence of preinvasive (epithelial hyperplasia and in situ carcinoma) and invasive lesions was determined and immunophenotypic analysis (estrogen receptor (ER), progesterone receptor (PgR), high molecular weight cytokeratin (34βE-12), E-cadherin, Ki-67, HER-2 and P53) was perfomed.


Columnar cell lesions were identified in 67 (53.1%) of the 126 canine mammary glands with intraepithelial alterations. They were observed in the terminal duct lobular units and characterized at dilated acini may be lined by several layers of columnar epithelial cells with elongated nuclei. Of the columnar cell lesions identified, 41 (61.2%) were without and 26 (38.8%) with atypia. Association with ductal hyperplasia was observed in 45/67 (67.1%). Sixty (89.5%) of the columnar cell lesions coexisted with neoplastic lesions (20 in situ carcinomas, 19 invasive carcinomas and 21 benign tumors). The columnar cells were ER, PgR and E-cadherin positive but negative for cytokeratin 34βE-12, HER-2 and P53. The proliferation rate as measured by Ki-67 appeared higher in the lesions analyzed than in normal TDLUs.


Columnar cell lesions in canine mammary gland are pathologically and immunophenotypically similar to those in human breast. This may suggest that dogs are a suitable model for the comparative study of noninvasive breast lesions.