A common progenitor (adult stem) cell gives rise to both the glandular and myoepithelial cell lineages. a new cell biological concept as the basis of breast pathology

W. Boecker, R. Moll, P. Van Diest, P. Dervan, H. Buerger, B. Brandt, R. Holland, C. Poremba, R. Diallo, I. Buchwallow

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Two epithelial cell types, the inner glandular and the outer myoepithelial cells, form the current paradigm of breast pathology. A third cell type characterized by K5/14 positvity has been demonstrated in benign, but not in most malignant cases. Methods: We used computer-assisted double labelling techniques for visualization of specific differentiation markers for glandular (K8/18/19) and myoepithelial cells (sm-actin, calponin)and basal keratins 5/6. In total, 10 samples of normal breast tissue, 12 cases of ductal hyperplasia, usual type, and 17 cases of atypical ductal hyperplasia/ductal carcinoma in situ were examined. Findings: In normal breast tissue the existence of K5/6+ progenitor cells, differentiated glandular (K8/18/19+) and myoepithelial cells (sm-actin+)could be established. Furthermore we found intermediate cells expressing either K5/6 and K8/18/19 or K5/6 and sm-actin. The same range of cells was found in all the cases of ductal hyperplasia, usual type. In contrast, sixteen of the ADH and DCIS cases displayed a purely glandular phenotype. Conclusion: We conclude that in normal breast tissue K5/14-positive common progenitor (adult stem) cells give rise to both glandular (K8/18/19+) and myoepithelial cells (sm-actin+, calponin+) via intermediate cells (either K5/6+ , K8/18/19+ or K5/6+, sma-actin+). Ductal hyperplasia consequently is a progenitor (stem) cell-derived lesion, in which the two cell lineages are preserved, whereas ADH/DCIS apparantly evolves from glandularly differentiated cells. Our data point the way towards a new cell biological model that applies to the normal breast and proliferative lesions alike.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)211
Number of pages1
JournalBreast Cancer Research and Treatment
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research

Cite this