Effects of maternal dietary exposure to cadmium during pregnancy on mammary cancer risk among female offspring

Jennifer Davis, Galam Khan, Mary Martin, Leena Hilakivi-Clarke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Background: Since heavy metal cadmium is an endocrine disrupting chemical, we investigated whether maternal exposure to cadmium during the pregnancy alters mammary tumorigenesis among female offspring. Methods: From gestation day 10 to day 19, pregnant rat dams were fed modified American Institute of Nutrition (AIN93G) diet containing 39% energy from fat (baseline diet), or the baseline diet containing moderate (75 μg/kg of feed) or high (150 μg/kg) cadmium levels. Some dams were injected with 10 μg 17β-estradiol (E2) daily between gestation days 10 and 19. Results: Rats exposed to a moderate cadmium dose in utero were heavier and exhibited accelerated puberty onset. Both moderate and high cadmium dose led to increased circulating testosterone levels and reduced the expression of androgen receptor in the mammary gland. The moderate cadmium dose mimicked the effects of in utero E2 exposure on mammary gland morphology and increased both the number of terminal end buds and pre-malignant hyperplastic alveolar nodules (HANs), but in contrast to the E2, it did not increase 7, 12-dimethylbenz (a) anthracene-induced mammary tumorigenesis. Conclusions: The effects of in utero cadmium exposure were dependent on the dose given to pregnant dams: Moderate, but not high, cadmium dose mimicked some of the effects seen in the in utero E2 exposed rats, such as increased HANs in the mammary gland.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number114219
JournalJournal of Carcinogenesis
StatePublished - Jan 1 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Androgen receptor
  • cadmium
  • estradiol
  • estrogen receptor
  • in utero exposure
  • mammary cancer
  • maternal diet
  • testosterone


Dive into the research topics of 'Effects of maternal dietary exposure to cadmium during pregnancy on mammary cancer risk among female offspring'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this