Amphiregulin: Role in mammary gland development and breast cancer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Extensive epithelial cell proliferation underlies the ductal morphogenesis of puberty that generates the mammary tree that will eventually fill the fat pad. This estrogen-dependent process is believed to be essentially dependent on locally produced growth factors that act in a paracrine fashion. EGF-like growth factor ligands, acting through EGF receptors are some of the principal promoters of pubertal ductal morphogenesis. Amphiregulin is the most abundant EGF-like growth factor in the pubertal mammary gland. Its gene is transcriptionally regulated by ER alpha, and recent evidence identifies it as a key mediator of the estrogen-driven epithelial cell proliferation of puberty: The pubertal deficiency in mammary gland ductal morphogenesis in ER alpha, amphiregulin, and EGFR knockout mice phenocopy each other. As a prognostic indicator in human breast cancer, amphiregulin indicates an outcome identical to that predicted by ER alpha presence. Despite this, a range of studies both on preneoplastic human breast tissue and on cell culture based models of breast cancer, suggest a possibly significant role for amphiregulin in driving human breast cancer progression. Here we summarise our current understanding of amphiregulin's contribution to mammary gland development and breast cancer progression.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Cancer and Oncology


  • puberty, amphiregulin, estrogen, ductal morphogenesis
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)159-169
JournalJournal of Mammary Gland Biology and Neoplasia
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2008
Publication categoryResearch