Early Dietary Exposures Epigenetically Program Mammary Cancer Susceptibility through Igf1-Mediated Expansion of the Mammary Stem Cell Compartment. Academic Article uri icon


  • Diet is a critical environmental factor affecting breast cancer risk, and recent evidence shows that dietary exposures during early development can affect lifetime mammary cancer susceptibility. To elucidate the underlying mechanisms, we used our established crossover feeding mouse model, where exposure to a high-fat and high-sugar (HFHS) diet during defined developmental windows determines mammary tumor incidence and latency in carcinogen-treated mice. Mammary tumor incidence is significantly increased in mice receiving a HFHS post-weaning diet (high-tumor mice, HT) compared to those receiving a HFHS diet during gestation (low-tumor mice, LT). The current study revealed that the mammary stem cell (MaSC) population was significantly increased in mammary glands from HT compared to LT mice. Igf1 expression was increased in mammary stromal cells from HT mice, where it promoted MaSC self-renewal. The increased Igf1 expression was induced by DNA hypomethylation of the Igf1 Pr1 promoter, mediated by a decrease in Dnmt3b levels. Mammary tissues from HT mice also had reduced levels of Igfbp5, leading to increased bioavailability of tissue Igf1. This study provides novel insights into how early dietary exposures program mammary cancer risk, demonstrating that effective dietary intervention can reduce mammary cancer incidence.

published proceedings

  • Cells

altmetric score

  • 0.75

author list (cited authors)

  • Zheng, Y., Luo, L., Lambertz, I. U., Conti, C. J., & Fuchs-Young, R.

citation count

  • 2

publication date

  • August 2022