Development and Pathology of the Equine Mammary Gland.
An understanding of the anatomy, histology, and development of the equine mammary gland underpins study of the pathology of diseases including galactorrhoea, agalactia, mastitis, and mammary tumour development. This review examines the prenatal development of the equine mammary gland and the striking degree to which the tissue undergoes postnatal development associated with the reproductive cycle. The gland is characterised by epithelial structures arranged in terminal duct lobular units, similar to those of the human breast, supported by distinct zones of intra- and interlobular collagenous stroma. Mastitis and mammary carcinomas are two of the most frequently described equine mammary pathologies and have an overlap in associated clinical signs. Mastitis is most frequently associated with bacterial aetiologies, particularly Streptococcus spp., and knowledge of the process of post-lactational regression can be applied to preventative husbandry strategies. Equine mammary tumours are rare and carry a poor prognosis in many cases. Recent studies have used mammosphere assays to reveal novel insights into the identification and potential behaviour of mammary stem/progenitor cell populations. These suggest that mammospheres derived from equine cells have different growth dynamics compared to those from other species. In parallel with studying the equine mammary gland in order to advance knowledge of equine mammary disease at the interface of basic and clinical science, there is a need to better understand equine lactational biology. This is driven in part by the recognition of the potential value of horse and donkey milk for human consumption, particularly donkey milk in children with 'Cow Milk Protein Allergy'.