Elevated miR-29c-5p Expression in Nipple Aspirate Fluid Is Associated with Extremely High Mammographic Breast Density

Tessa A C M Vissers, Leonie Piek, Susana I S Patuleia, Aafke J Duinmeijer, Marije F Bakker, Elsken van der Wall, Paul J van Diest, Carla H van Gils, Cathy B Moelans

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


High mammographic density (MD) is associated with an increased risk of breast cancer, however the underlying mechanisms are largely unknown. This research aimed to identify microRNAs (miRNAs) that play a role in the development of extremely dense breast tissue. In the discovery phase, 754 human mature miRNAs were profiled in 21 extremely high MD- and 20 very low MD-derived nipple aspirate fluid (NAF) samples from healthy women. In the validation phase, candidate miRNAs were assessed in a cohort of 89 extremely high MD and 81 very low MD NAF samples from healthy women. Independent predictors of either extremely high MD or miRNA expression were identified by logistic regression and linear regression analysis, respectively. mRNA targets and pathways were identified through miRTarBase, TargetScan, and PANTHER pathway analysis. Statistical analysis identified four differentially expressed miRNAs during the discovery phase. During the validation, linear regression ( p = 0.029; fold change = 2.10) and logistic regression ( p = 0.048; odds ratio = 1.38) showed that hsa-miR-29c-5p was upregulated in extremely high MD-derived NAF. Identified candidate mRNA targets of hsa-miR-29c-5p are CFLAR, DNMT3A, and PTEN. Further validation and exploration of targets and downstream pathways of has-miR-29c-5p will provide better insight into the processes involved in the development of high MD and in the associated increased risk of breast cancer.

Original languageEnglish
Article number3805
Pages (from-to)1-15
Issue number15
Publication statusPublished - 5 Aug 2022


  • breast cancer
  • mammographic density
  • miRNA
  • nipple aspirate fluid


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