Hydrogen sulfide is a regulator of mammary gland development in prepubescent female mice
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The present study aimed to investigate the effects of exogenous H2S on mammary gland development in pubescent mice and to explore the underlying mechanism. The mouse mammary epithelial cell line HC11, along with C57BL/6J mice, were treated with different concentrations of sodium hydrosulfide (NaHS), which is a donor of H2S. The HC11 cell viability, pubescent mammary gland development, and the involvement of proliferative proteins and pathways were assessed by CCK‑8 assay, EdU assay, whole mount staining, H&E staining, western blotting and reverse transcription‑quantitative PCR. Both in vitro and in vivo, a low concentration of NaHS (100 µM in vitro; 9 mg/kg in vivo) significantly promoted the viability of HC11 cells and the development of mammary glands by increasing the expression of the proliferative markers cyclin D1/3 and proliferating cell nuclear antigen. However, a high concentration of NaHS (1,000 µM in vitro; 18 mg/kg in vivo) inhibited HC11 cell viability, mammary gland development and the expression levels of proteins involved in proliferation. Subsequent experiments revealed that NaHS regulated the phosphatidylinositol 3‑kinase (PI3K)/protein kinase B (Akt)‑mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) signaling pathway during this process. In vivo, intraperitoneal injection of low concentration NaHS (9 mg/kg) activated the PI3K/Akt‑mTOR pathway in mammary glands of pubescent mice, increased the secretion of insulin‑like growth factor 1 (IGF‑1) and estradiol (E2), and then stimulated mammary gland ductal development. Whereas a high concentration of NaHS (18 mg/kg) elicited the opposite effects to those of low‑dose NaHS. In conclusion, the present study demonstrated that exogenous H2S supplied by NaHS may exert bidirectional effects on mammary gland ductal development; promoting ductal development at a low concentration and inhibiting it at a high concentration. The effects of H2S may occur via the intracellular PI3K/Akt‑mTOR signaling pathway, or by regulation of the secretion of IGF‑1 and E2.
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