Ontogeny and epithelial-stromal interactions regulate IGF expression in the ovine mammary gland

Russel C. Hovey, Helen W. Davey, Duncan D S Mackenzie, Thomas B. McFadden

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


Although the insulin-like growth factors (IGF-I and -II) have been implicated in the stimulation of mammogenesis, little is known of their regulation in the mammary gland. In this study we removed epithelial tissue from one of the two mammary glands of 1-week-old ewe lambs and examined IGF-I and -II mRNA expression during postnatal development in both the intact mammary gland and in the gland cleared of epithelial tissue. Expression of IGF-I mRNA was highest at 6 and 10 weeks of age, coincident with the prepubertal phase of rapid mammary growth, then declined and remained low until expression increased during late pregnancy. IGF-I mRNA was more abundant in the mammary fat pad adjacent to parenchyma (MFP) than in the contralateral fat pad that had been surgically cleared of epithelium (CFP). The level of IGF-II mRNA in parenchyma was highest at 1-23 weeks of age due to an increase in the abundance of specific mRNAs. Expression was lower in the fat pads, with generally higher levels in the intact MFP than the CFP, and in these tissues IGF-II expression was shown to increase with age between 6 and 23 weeks. We also investigated the influence of the ovary and estrogen on the expression of IGFs. While IGF-I mRNA abundance was unaffected by ovariectomy, exogenous estrogen resulted in higher levels of expression in the MFP of ovariectomized ewes and tended to increase its level in the parenchyma of intact ewes. Ovariectomy increased IGF-II mRNA within mammary parenchyma whereas estrogen suppressed levels in both the parenchyma and MFP. These findings demonstrate that IGF-I and -II mRNAs are expressed locally within the developing ovine mammary gland and are regulated by stage of ontogeny, ovarian hormones, and epithelial-stromal interaction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)139-144
Number of pages6
JournalMolecular and Cellular Endocrinology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 15 1998
Externally publishedYes


  • Epithelial-stromal interaction
  • Insulin-like growth factors
  • Mammary
  • Ontogeny
  • Ovariectomy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism


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