Alcohol intake stimulates epithelial proliferation in an authentic model of the human breast

Anke Schennink, Josephine F. Trott, Grace E. Berryhill, Caitlin E. Donovan, Rodrigo Manjarin, Monica K. VanKlompenberg, Ashley R. Rowson-Hodel, Michelle Yvette Osorio Luis, Russell C. Hovey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


The voluntary consumption of alcohol by humans is a modifiable lifestyle factor that has been consistently linked to a woman's risk of developing breast cancer. We have used an animal model that closely recapitulates breast development in humans to study the effect of alcohol intake on breast growth and morphology. Pubertal female pigs were fed alcohol for 4-5 weeks at 19-21% of total caloric intake, which led to average blood alcohol concentrations of 115-130 mg/dL. Alongside increased liver mass, alcohol intake promoted the formation of distended ductules within lobular units in association with increased epithelial proliferation. Alcohol consumption also increased phosphorylation of the transcription factor STAT5 in the mammary epithelium, but did not lead to any evidence of precocious lactogenesis. In conclusion, feeding alcohol to female pigs having a similar physiology and mammary gland morphology to humans during a reproductive state equivalent to human adolescence leads to increased mammary gland proliferation and development of atypical lobular structures. These changes may phenocopy how alcohol intake increases the risk for developing breast cancer in humans.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)93-100
Number of pages8
JournalReproductive Toxicology
StatePublished - Jul 1 2015


  • Alcohol
  • Mammary gland
  • Terminal ductal lobular unit

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology


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