Expression of CSF-1 and CSF-1 receptor by normal lactating mammary epithelial cells

Eva Sapi, Maryann B. Flick, Sofya Rodov D, Daryl Carter, Barry M. Kacinski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE: Previous studies suggested a potential role for macrophage colony stimulating factor (CSF-1) in lactogenic differentiation of the breast. The aim of this study was to define the regulation of CSF-1 and its receptor (CSF-1R, the product of c-fms proto-oncogene) by lactogenic hormones in the breast in vivo during pregnancy and lactation and in vitro in organ culture and mammary epithelial cell lines. METHODS: Immunohistochemical staining assays for the expression of CSF-1 and CSF-1R antigens were performed on sections of breast biopsies from nonpregnant (n = 10), prepartum (n = 4), and postpartum lactating patients (n = 7) and on sections of human mammary glands cultured in the presence of the lactogenic hormones insulin, prolactin, and glucocorticoids. Northern blot analyses were used to study the regulation of CSF-1 and CSF-1R by these same lactogenic hormones in normal and neoplastic mammary epithelial cell lines in cell culture. RESULTS: Normal, nonlactating mammary epithelium did not express CSF-1R and synthesized only low levels of CSF-1. During lactation, significant levels of both proteins could be observed in the epithelial cells that line actively lactating ducts and alveoli. Very similar increases in epithelial cell expression of CSF-1 and CSF- 1R were observed in organ cultures of normal mammary gland biopsies exposed to prolactin, insulin, and glucocorticoids. Colony stimulating factor mRNA levels were increased by prolactin and/or insulin in a normal mammary epithelial cell line, while glucocorticoids had no apparent effect on CSF-1 mRNA levels. In contrast, we found that the levels of CSF-1R transcript are regulated primarily by glucocorticoids in breast carcinoma cells, while prolactin merely modulates the glucocorticoid effect. CONCLUSION: The observed increases in the expression of CSF-I and its receptor during lactogenesis and the regulation of CSF-1/CSF-1R by lactogenic hormones suggests that this cytokine/receptor pair might play a regulatory role in the cellular events leading to the lactogenic differentiation of mammary epithelial cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)94-101
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of the Society for Gynecologic Investigation
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1998
Externally publishedYes


  • Breast cancer
  • c-fms
  • Lactogenesis
  • Organ culture
  • Prolactin
  • RU 486

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


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