Proliferation of breast epithelial cells in healthy women during the menstrual cycle


      OBJECTIVE: Our objective was to assess proliferation in normal breast epithelial cells from healthy women during the follicular and luteal phases of the menstrual cycle. STUDY DESIGN: We analyzed the proliferation marker Ki-67/MIB-1 by immunocytochemical methods in breast epithelial cells procured through fine needle aspiration biopsy from 47 healthy volunteers. Differences were assessed by Wilcoxon rank sum tests, and correlations were determined by Spearman`s rank correlation coefficient. RESULTS: The proportion of KI-67/MIB-1–positive cells was higher in the luteal phase (2.04%) than in the follicular phase (1.66%). The values in women aged <35 years were 2.29% and 1.13%, respectively (p = 0.003). In ovulating women with two aspirates during the same menstrual cycle the percentage of proliferating cells increased from the follicular phase (1.3%) to the luteal phase (2.4%) (p < 0.04). Proliferation was positively correlated with serum progesterone levels the day of aspiration (r = 0.34, p < 0.05). CONCLUSION: The fine needle aspiration biopsy technique is a valuable tool for in vivo studies of cell proliferation in the normal breast. Data clearly suggest a proliferative action of progesterone.


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