The overarching goal of the proposed research is to reveal whether or not the protective role of pregnancy is mediated by the stroma, and if so, whether this effect is mediated through physical properties operating in it. A novel in vitro three-dimensional model of the normal and neoplastic breast will be used to study 1) the role of the parous stroma as mediator of the protective effect of pregnancy on breast carcinogenesis and 2) the contribution of the mechanical forces generated by stromal fibroblasts in this protective process. This research is not only relevant to improving our understanding of the role of the stroma, which has not been studied in detail in humans, but it will open up a new target for prevention and therapy, namely, how to modulate stromal function.
This study at Tufts University in Boston is analyzing breast tissue samples from women without breast cancer. The researchers wanted to compare tissue from women who have or have not given birth. They are studying the stroma, the breast tissue that supports the breast ducts. They are also investigating whether the age a woman becomes pregnant, the number of pregnancies she has had, and whether or not she has breast-fed has an effect on the stroma. The researchers turned to the Army of Women (AOW) to enroll up to 85 volunteers in the Boston area. The Call to Action for this study was sent to AOW members on Jan. 1, 2011. The researchers closed enrollment on Nov. 10, 2014, after the AOW provided them with 116 women who were interested in enrolling in the study.