Aging is closely associated with increased susceptibility to breast cancer, yet there have been limited systematic studies of aging-induced alterations in the mammary gland. Here, we leverage high-throughput single-cell RNA sequencing to generate a detailed transcriptomic atlas of young and aged murine mammary tissues. By analyzing epithelial, stromal, and immune cells, we identify age-dependent alterations in cell proportions and gene expression, providing evidence that suggests alveolar maturation and physiological decline. The analysis also uncovers potential pro-tumorigenic mechanisms coupled to the age-associated loss of tumor suppressor function and change in microenvironment. In addition, we identify a rare, age-dependent luminal population co-expressing hormone-sensing and secretory-alveolar lineage markers, as well as two macrophage populations expressing distinct gene signatures, underscoring the complex heterogeneity of the mammary epithelia and stroma. Collectively, this rich single-cell atlas reveals the effects of aging on mammary physiology and can serve as a useful resource for understanding aging-associated cancer risk.
- endothelial cells
- luminal and myoepithelial cells
- mammary epithelia and stroma
- single-cell RNA-seq