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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Expression of prolactin receptors in normal canine mammary tissue, canine mammary adenomas and mammary adenocarcinomas

Erika Michel1*, Stefanie K Feldmann1, Mariusz P Kowalewski2, Carla Rohrer Bley3, Alois Boos2, Franco Guscetti4 and Iris M Reichler1

Author Affiliations

1 Clinic for Reproductive Medicine, Unit of Small Animal Reproduction, Vetsuisse Faculty, University of Zurich, Winterthurerstrasse 260, 8057, Zurich, Switzerland

2 Institute of Veterinary Anatomy, Vetsuisse Faculty, University of Zurich, Winterthurerstrasse 260, 8057, Zurich, Switzerland

3 Division of Radiation Oncology, Vetsuisse Faculty, University of Zurich, Winterthurerstrasse 260, 8057, Zurich, Switzerland

4 Institute of Veterinary Pathology, Vetsuisse Faculty, University of Zurich, Winterthurerstrasse 260, 8057, Zurich, Switzerland

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BMC Veterinary Research 2012, 8:72  doi:10.1186/1746-6148-8-72

Published: 30 May 2012

Abstract

Background

Mammary tumors represent the most common neoplastic disease in female dogs. Recently, the promoting role of prolactin (PRL) in the development of human breast carcinoma has been shown. Possible proliferative, anti-apoptotic, migratory and angiogenic effects of PRL on human mammary cancer cells in vitro and in vivo were suggested. The effects of PRL are mediated by its receptor, and alterations in receptor expression are likely to play a role in tumor development. Currently, not much data is available about prolactin receptor (PRLR) expression in canine mammary tumors. To set the basis for investigations on the role of PRL in mammary tumorigenesis in this species, prolactin receptor expression was evaluated by semi-quantitative real time PCR and immunohistochemistry on 10 formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded samples each of canine non-neoplastic mammary tissue, mammary adenomas and adenocarcinomas.

Results

The highest PRLR expression levels were found in normal mammary tissue, while adenomas, and to an even higher degree adenocarcinomas, showed a significant decrease in prolactin receptor expression. Compared to normal tissue, PRLR mRNA was reduced 2.4 fold (p = 0.0261) in adenomas and 4.8 fold (p = 0.008) in adenocarcinomas. PRLR mRNA expression was significantly lower in malignant than in benign lesions (p = 0.0165). Immunohistochemistry demonstrated PRLR expression in all three tissue types with signals mostly limited to epithelial cells.

Conclusions

Malignant transformation of mammary tissue was associated with a decline in prolactin receptor expression. Further studies are warranted to address the functional significance of this finding.

Keywords:
Dog; Canine; Mammary tumor; Prolactin; Prolactin receptor