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Normal human breast xenografts activate N-nitrosodimethylamine: identification of potential target cells for an environmental nitrosamine.Zaidi, S N; Laidlaw, Ian; Howell, Anthony; Potten, Christopher S; Cooper, Donald P; O'Connor, Peter J; Department of Carcinogenesis, Christie Hospital (NHS) Trust, Manchester, UK. (1992-07)Normal human breast tissue maintained as xenografts in female Balb/c (nu/nu) athymic mice is capable of metabolising N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA) to active intermediates that will react with DNA. Administration of NDMA to mice with slow-release implants of 17 beta-oestradiol which provide human physiological (luteal phase) circulating oestrogen levels and increase cell proliferation in the xenograft (Laidlaw et al., 1992), leads to an apparent increase in the extent of reaction with DNA compared to controls without oestrogen implants. In mice with oestrogen implants, measurements of the amounts of the promutagenic lesion, O6-methyl-2'-deoxyguanosine formed in DNA clearly indicated a dose related increase in the extent of reaction. Detection of O6-methyl-2'-deoxyguanosine using immunohistochemical procedures revealed that the nuclei of cells of the glandular epithelium, supportive tissue and adipose tissue, in decreasing order of prevalence, were positively stained for the presence of this DNA lesion. Epithelial cells, which are the putative target cells for carcinogenesis in the breast, are therefore prone to promutagenic damage as a result of exposure to an environmental nitrosamine.