Research Paper Volume 9, Issue 3 pp 665—686

Lesion complexity drives age related cancer susceptibility in human mammary epithelial cells

Deepa M. Sridharan1, , Shiena Enerio1, , Mark A. LaBarge2, , Martha M. Stampfer1, , Janice M. Pluth1, ,

  • 1 Division of Biological Systems and Engineering, Department of Organismal Systems and Bioresilience, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Berkeley, CA 94803, USA
  • 2 Department of Population Sciences, City of Hope National Medical Center, Duarte, CA 91010, USA

Received: December 4, 2016       Accepted: February 19, 2017       Published: February 28, 2017
How to Cite

Copyright: © 2017 Sridharan et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.


Exposures to various DNA damaging agents can deregulate a wide array of critical mechanisms that maintain genome integrity. It is unclear how these processes are impacted by one's age at the time of exposure and the complexity of the DNA lesion. To clarify this, we employed radiation as a tool to generate simple and complex lesions in normal primary human mammary epithelial cells derived from women of various ages. We hypothesized that genomic instability in the progeny of older cells exposed to complex damages will be exacerbated by age-associated deterioration in function and accentuate age-related cancer predisposition. Centrosome aberrations and changes in stem cell numbers were examined to assess cancer susceptibility. Our data show that the frequency of centrosome aberrations proportionately increases with age following complex damage causing exposures. However, a dose-dependent increase in stem cell numbers was independent of both age and the nature of the insult. Phospho-protein signatures provide mechanistic clues to signaling networks implicated in these effects. Together these studies suggest that complex damage can threaten the genome stability of the stem cell population in older people. Propagation of this instability is subject to influence by the microenvironment and will ultimately define cancer risk in the older population.


HMEC: Human mammary epithelial cells; ALDH: Aldehyde dehydrogenase; ROS: Reactive oxygen species; LD: Low dose; HD: High dose; S/P: Stem/Progenitor; Cs: Cesium; Ti: Titanium; RTK: Receptor Tyrosine Kinase.