The resistance of Copenhagen (Cop) rats to mammary tumor development has recently been linked to three loci, but the genes have yet to be cloned and the mechanism of resistance is still largely unknown. In order to determine the cellular events associated with resistance, we prepared mammary whole mounts from Cop and susceptible Wistar Furth (WF) rats 0, 15, 30, 45 and 60 days after treatment with 50 mg/kg N-methyl-N-nitrosourea (MNU). At 15 days, treated rats of both strains had significantly more undifferentiated structures [terminal end buds (TEBs)] and significantly fewer differentiated structures [alveolar buds (ABs)] than untreated rats. Treated Cop rats, however, had significantly more TEBs and fewer ABs than age-matched, treated WF rats. Histological analysis of preneoplastic lesions tentatively identified from the whole mounts showed that like WF rats, Cop rats developed early preneoplastic lesions [intraductal proliferations (IDPs)] by 15 days post-MNU treatment. Unlike IDPs from WF rats, however, the IDPs in Cop rats then decreased in number until they were absent 60 days post-MNU treatment. Furthermore, they failed to progress into more advanced lesions such as ductal carcinomas in situ (DCIS). Finally, we found G→A activating mutations in codon 12 of the Ha-ras gene in 60% of IDPs from Cop rats and 75% of IDPs from WF rats. Our results show that resistance in Cop rats is not due to a target cell population for the carcinogen that is smaller than in susceptible rats or to the failure of the carcinogen to inhibit mammary gland differentiation. Furthermore, we have shown that Cop rats develop preneoplastic IDPs that harbor Ha-ras mutations but, unlike IDPs in susceptible strains, they fail to progress and ultimately disappear.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research