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The breast cancer resistance protein BCRP (ABCG2) concentrates drugs and carcinogenic xenotoxins into milk

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Contamination of milk with drugs, pesticides and other xenotoxins can pose a major health risk to breast-fed infants and dairy consumers. Here we show that the multidrug transporter BCRP (encoded by ABCG2) is strongly induced in the mammary gland of mice, cows and humans during lactation and that it is responsible for the active secretion of clinically and toxicologically important substrates such as the dietary carcinogen PhIP, the anticancer drug topotecan and the antiulcerative cimetidine into mouse milk.

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Figure 1: Expression of ABCG2 in the mammary gland.
Figure 2: Abcg2 mediates active secretion of compounds into the milk.

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  • 28 February 2005

    The Supp information (Supplementary Methods) was replaced with the correct symbols and units


  1. * Note: The units in the Supplementary Methods were listed incorrectly as a result of an error in file conversion. The correct symbols and units now appear in the Supplementary Methods file online.


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We would like to thank M. van der Valk, J-Y. Song, T. Schrauwers and R. Lodewijks for technical support. C. Clarke (Institute of Cancer Research, London, UK), K. Plaut and T. McFadden (University of Vermont, USA) are kindly acknowledged for providing human and bovine tissue samples. This work was supported by grants NKI 2000-2271, 2000-2143 and 99-2060 from the Dutch Cancer Society.

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Correspondence to Alfred H Schinkel.

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The authors have submitted a patent application concerning the application of insights in the role of BCRP in concentrating xenotoxins (e.g., drugs, pesticides) into milk.

Supplementary information

Supplementary Fig. 1

Expression of Abcg2 during mammary development. (PDF 197 kb)

Supplementary Fig. 2

Milk secretion of acyclovir, folic acid and DHEAS in mice. (PDF 25 kb)

Supplementary Table 1

Secretion of drugs into milk. (PDF 32 kb)

Supplementary Methods (PDF 27 kb)

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Jonker, J., Merino, G., Musters, S. et al. The breast cancer resistance protein BCRP (ABCG2) concentrates drugs and carcinogenic xenotoxins into milk. Nat Med 11, 127–129 (2005).

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