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BioMed Research International
Volume 2014 (2014), Article ID 382653, 16 pages
Research Article

Functional Interactions between 17β-Estradiol and Progesterone Regulate Autophagy during Acini Formation by Bovine Mammary Epithelial Cells in 3D Cultures

Department of Physiological Sciences, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Warsaw University of Life Sciences, Nowoursynowska 159, 02-776 Warsaw, Poland

Received 24 January 2014; Revised 26 March 2014; Accepted 9 April 2014; Published 7 May 2014

Academic Editor: Maria Vaccaro

Copyright © 2014 Katarzyna Zielniok et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Mammary gland epithelium forms a network of ducts and alveolar units under control of ovarian hormones: 17-beta-estradiol (E2) and progesterone (P4). Mammary epithelial cells (MECs) cultured on reconstituted basement membrane (rBM) form three-dimensional (3D) acini composed of polarized monolayers surrounding a lumen. Using the 3D culture of BME-UV1 bovine MECs we previously demonstrated that autophagy was induced in the centrally located cells of developing spheroids, and sex steroids increased this process. In the present study we showed that E2 and P4 enhanced the expression of ATG3, ATG5, and BECN1 genes during acini formation, and this effect was accelerated in the presence of both hormones together. The stimulatory action of E2 and P4 was also reflected by increased levels of Atg5, Atg3, and LC3-II proteins. Additionally, the activity of kinases involved in autophagy regulation, Akt, ERK, AMPK, and mTOR, was examined. E2 + P4 slightly increased the level of phosphorylated AMPK but diminished phosphorylated Akt and mTOR on day 9 of 3D culture. Thus, the synergistic actions of E2 and P4 accelerate the development of bovine mammary acini, which may be connected with stimulation of ATGs expression, as well as regulation of signaling pathways (PI3K/Akt/mTOR; AMPK/mTOR) involved in autophagy induction.