Developing ovine mammary terminal duct lobular units have a dynamic mucosal and stromal immune microenvironment

Dorottya Nagy, Clare M.C. Gillis, Katie Davies, Abigail L. Fowden, Paul Rees, John W. Wills, Katherine Hughes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


The human breast and ovine mammary gland undergo striking levels of postnatal development, leading to formation of terminal duct lobular units (TDLUs). Here we interrogate aspects of sheep TDLU growth as a model of breast development and to increase understanding of ovine mammogenesis. The distributions of epithelial nuclear Ki67 positivity differ significantly between younger and older lambs. Ki67 expression is polarised to the leading edge of the developing TDLUs. Intraepithelial ductal macrophages exhibit periodicity and considerably increased density in lambs approaching puberty. Stromal macrophages are more abundant centrally than peripherally. Intraepithelial T lymphocytes are more numerous in older lambs. Stromal hotspots of Ki67 expression colocalize with immune cell aggregates that exhibit distinct organisation consistent with tertiary lymphoid structures. The lamb mammary gland thus exhibits a dynamic mucosal and stromal immune microenvironment and constitutes a valuable model system that provides new insights into postnatal breast development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number993
Pages (from-to)993
JournalCommunications Biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Aug 20 2021


  • Animals
  • Female
  • Immunity, Mucosal/immunology
  • Macrophages/immunology
  • Mammary Glands, Animal/growth & development
  • Sheep, Domestic/growth & development
  • Stromal Cells/immunology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)


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