Diffuse optical spectroscopic imaging for the investigation of human lactation physiology: a case study on mammary involution

Nienke Bosschaart*, Anaïs Leproux, Ola Abdalsalam, Wen-Pin Chen, Christine E. McLaren, Bruce J. Tromberg, Thomas D. O'Sullivan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)
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Relatively few imaging and sensing technologies are employed to study human lactation physiology. In particular, human mammary development during pregnancy as well as mammary involution after lactation have been poorly described, despite their importance for breast cancer diagnosis and treatment during these phases. Our case study shows the potential of diffuse optical spectroscopic imaging (DOSI) to uniquely study the spatiotemporal changes in mammary tissue composition during the involution of the lactating breast toward its pre-pregnant state. At nine time intervals over a period of eight months after the cessation of breastfeeding, we reconstructed 2-D maps of mammary water content, lipid content, total hemoglobin (THb) concentration, oxygen saturation (StO2), and tissue optical scattering. Mammary lipid content in the nonareolar region showed a significant relative increase of 59%, whereas water content and THb concentration showed a significant relative decrease of 50% and 48%, respectively. Significant changes were also found in StO2 and tissue optical scattering. Our findings are consistent with the gradual replacement of fibroglandular tissue by adipose tissue and vascular regression during mammary involution. Moreover, our data provide unique insight into the dynamics of breast tissue composition and demonstrate the effectiveness of DOSI as a technique to study human lactation physiology.
Original languageEnglish
Article number056006
Pages (from-to)056006
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of biomedical optics
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 23 May 2019


  • breast
  • diffuse optical spectroscopy
  • imaging
  • involution
  • lactation


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