Of Mice and Women: A Comparative Tissue Biology Perspective of Breast Stem Cells and Differentiation

Gabriela Dontu, Tan A. Ince

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Tissue based research requires a background in human and veterinary pathology, developmental biology, anatomy, as well as molecular and cellular biology. This type of comparative tissue biology (CTB) expertise is necessary to tackle some of the conceptual challenges in human breast stem cell research. It is our opinion that the scarcity of CTB expertise contributed to some erroneous interpretations in tissue based research, some of which are reviewed here in the context of breast stem cells. In this article we examine the dissimilarities between mouse and human mammary tissue and suggest how these may impact stem cell studies. In addition, we consider the differences between breast ducts vs. lobules and clarify how these affect the interpretation of results in stem cell research. Lastly, we introduce a new elaboration of normal epithelial cell types in human breast and discuss how this provides a clinically useful basis for breast cancer classification.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)51-62
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Mammary Gland Biology and Neoplasia
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Aug 19 2015


  • Comparative pathology
  • Hormone receptors
  • Mammary gland
  • Stem cells

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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