HMEC mammary epithelial cells in MEGM growth media

Lonza’s human mammary epithelial cells in breast cancer research and organoid formation studies:  

Mammary gland epithelium develops tumors at primarily 3 major sites- ducts, terminal ducts and lobules. This tumor development is a result of a combination of hormonal, environmental agents, diet and genetic factors.  

Lonza’s normal human mammary epithelial cells (HMEC) have been utilized by our customers in various applications:

  • Cancer development – Introduction of oncogenes to validate if cells will develop cancer
  • Ideal controls – To get comprehensive data, HMECs are used as side-by-side controls with commonly used immortalized cell lines
  • Organoid formation or tissue regeneration – HMECs have supported studies where mammary epithelial cells are grown in different 3D scaffolds to understand and optimize the regeneration process


Mammary Gland Development:

The mammary gland is located in the breasts and is responsible for lactation, or the production of milk. The gland development is a multistage process that undergoes morphological changes through puberty, pregnancy, lactation and involution.   

At puberty, estrogen induces the ductal cells to proliferate and form branch-like structures. The next phase of mammary gland development occurs post-ovulation when progesterone causes the terminal ductal cells to differentiate into the milk-producing cells called alveoli. Once the lactation phase hits, the secretion of milk is induced by the hormone prolactin. At the end of lactation phase, the mammary glands and areolae return to their pre-pregnancy state and post-menopause the glands are largely replaced by connective tissue and fat.  



 Development of Mammary Gland infographic


A schematic overview of postnatal mammary gland development in the mouse. Image courtesy of Hughes K, Watson CJ. The spectrum of STAT functions in mammary gland development. JAK-STAT. 2012;1(3):151-158. doi:10.4161/jkst.19691.