Models of breast morphogenesis based on localization of stem cells in the developing mammary lobule

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Characterization of normal breast stem cells is important for understanding their role in breast development and in breast cancer. However, the identity of these cells is a subject of controversy and their localization in the breast epithelium is not known. In this study, we utilized a novel approach to analyze the morphogenesis of mammary lobules, by combining one-dimensional theoretical models and computer-generated 3D fractals. Comparing predictions of these models with immunohistochemical analysis of tissue sections for candidate stem cell markers, we defined distinct areas where stem cells reside in the mammary lobule. An increased representation of stem cells was found in smaller, less developed lobules compared to larger, more mature lobules, with marked differences in the gland of nulliparous versus parous women and that of BRCA1/2 mutation carriers versus non-carriers.


  • Gabriella Honeth
  • Tommaso Schiavinotto
  • Federico Vaggi
  • Rebecca Marlow
  • Tokuwa Kanno
  • Ireneusz Shinomiya
  • Sara Lombardi
  • Bharath Buchupalli
  • Rosalind Graham
  • Patrycja Gazinska
  • Vernie Ramalingam
  • Joy Burchell
  • Anand D Purushotham
  • Sarah E Pinder
  • Attila Csikasz-Nagy
  • Gabriela Dontu
External organisations
  • King's College London
Research areas and keywords


  • Biomarkers, Cell Differentiation, Epithelium, Female, Humans, Mammary Glands, Human, Models, Biological, Organogenesis, Stem Cells, Tissue Culture Techniques, Journal Article, Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)699-711
Number of pages13
JournalStem Cell Reports
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2015 Apr 14
Publication categoryResearch