Increased levels of pro-inflammatory markers and decreased levels of anti-inflammatory markers in the breast tissue can result in local inflammation. We aimed to investigate whether local inflammation in the breast tissue is associated with age-related lobular involution, a process inversely related to breast cancer risk. Levels of eleven pro- and anti-inflammatory markers were assessed by immunohistochemistry in normal breast tissue obtained from 164 pre- and postmenopausal breast cancer patients. Involution status of the breast (degree of lobular involution and the predominant lobule type) was microscopically assessed in normal breast tissue on hematoxylin-eosin stained mastectomy slides. Multivariate generalized linear models were used to assess the associations. In age-adjusted analyses, higher levels of pro-inflammatory markers IL-6, TNF-α, CRP, COX-2, leptin, SAA1 and IL-8; and anti-inflammatory marker IL-10, were inversely associated with the prevalence of complete lobular involution (all P≤0.04). Higher levels of the pro-inflammatory marker COX-2 were also associated with lower prevalence of predominant type 1/no type 3 lobules in the breast, an indicator of complete involution, in age-adjusted analysis (P = 0.017). Higher tissue levels of inflammatory markers, mainly the pro-inflammatory ones, are associated with less involuted breasts and may consequently be associated with an increased risk of developing breast cancer.
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