Adolescent vitamin A intake alters susceptibility to mammary carcinogenesis in the Sprague-Dawley rat

Richard P. Metz, Mark Kaeck, Maria Stacewicz-Sapuntzakis, Terry Mitrenga, Heidi McCarty, Pepper Schedin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


We tested the hypothesis that adolescent dietary vitamin A intake impacts mammary gland development and subsequent sensitivity to carcinogenesis. Sprague-Dawley rats were fed a purified diet that was vitamin A deficient, adequate (2.2 mg retinyl palmitate/kg diet), or supranutritional (16 mg retinyl palmitate/kg diet) from 21 to 63 days of age, the period of adolescent mammary gland development. At 73 days of age, rats were given 1-methyl-1-nitrosourea (25 mg/kg body wt ip) and monitored for mammary tumors. Tumors appeared earlier and more frequently in rats fed vitamin A-deficient or -supplemented diets. Vitamin A deficiency during adolescence was associated with alveolar mammary gland development and precocious milk protein expression, while supplementation was associated with ductal gland development and suppression of milk protein expression. Differences in circulating estradiol and mammary gland estrogen receptor-α, and estrogen-responsive progesterone receptor mRNA were not observed, suggesting that the effects of vitamin A on mammary gland development and carcinogenesis are estrogen independent. Mammary expression of another hormone receptor that regulates milk protein expression, the glucocorticoid receptor, was also unaffected. These results demonstrate that vitamin A intake during adolescence alters mammary gland differentiation and indicate that a narrow range of vitamin A intake during adolescence protects against carcinogenesis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)78-90
Number of pages13
JournalNutrition and Cancer
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2002
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Oncology
  • Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Cancer Research


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