Methodological considerations in estrogen assays of breast fluid and breast tissue

Robert T. Chatterton*, Miguel Muzzio, Richard Heinz, Peter H. Gann, Seema A. Khan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Estradiol (E2) in nipple aspirate fluid (NAF), ductal lavage fluid (DLF), and random fine needle aspirates (rFNA) are compared. Quantification was by immunoassay or tandem MS. The percent of women yielding NAF varied between 24% and 48% and for DLF was 86.3%. Variation between ducts within a breast was not less than variation between breasts within women but variation between breasts and within women over time was significantly less than variation between women. Serum E2 was highly significantly different among phases of the menstrual cycle but NAF E2 was not different. The correlation between serum and breast fluid E2 concentrations in premenopausal women had coefficients of determination of less than 15%. The correlation between serum and NAF in studies of postmenopausal women varied greatly and may depend on patient selection. The difference between NAF E2 between pre- and postmenopausal women was only 22%; for rFNA it was non-significantly 44% lower in a similar group of postmenopausal women. Progesterone was 96% and 98% lower in postmenopausal NAF and rFNA samples, respectively. Measurements of E2 in breast fluid or breast tissue appears to provide similar estimates of E2 exposure. E2 levels in breast fluid do not reflect the rapid changes that occur in serum and, thus, serum availability of E2 is only one factor determining its levels in the breast. The similarity of levels between breasts and between ducts suggests that estimates of estrogen exposure does not require multiple samples, however, unavailability of fluid may require rFNA in some cases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)103-107
Number of pages5
Issue numberPart A
StatePublished - Jul 1 2015


  • Breast
  • Estradiol
  • Immunoassay
  • Serum
  • Tandem mass spectroscopy
  • Tissue

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Biochemistry
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Pharmacology
  • Organic Chemistry


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