Human breast milk cells are positive for the pioneer transcription factor ISL1

M. Piras, P. Coni*, M. Piludu, S. Coni, J. I. Lachowicz, M. Jaremko, G. Faa, F. Cau, A. Scano, G. Orrù, R. Murru, G. Pichiri

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


– OBJECTIVE: ISL1 is a pioneer transcription factor that plays important roles in cell lineage specification and differentiation, by programming the epigenome and recruiting additional regulatory factors. The aim of this study is to determine whether the human breastmilk contains ISL1-positive stem cells, and, if so, to describe the subcellular localization of ISL1. MATERIALS AND METHODS: Breast milk was obtained from fourteen healthy females during the first 2-6 months of lactation. Cell morphology was examined in the breast milk with the automatic ThinPrep® processor (Hologic® Inc.) in commercial Cytological ThinPrep® solution (Hologic® Inc.), followed by standard immunohisto-chemical staining of ISL1. RESULTS: ISL1 had a granular diffuse cytoplasmic localization, with varying intensity of staining in both single and grouped cells. Nuclear staining was also present, as was staining of intracellular and extracellular vesicles with ISL1 antibody. CONCLUSIONS: These preliminary results suggest that ISL1 could distinguish a readily available source of putative stem cells in human breast milk. These stem cells may complete the network created between the mother and the newborn during gestation, thereby improving the efficiency of programming and reprogramming postnatal events.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)8842-8849
Number of pages8
JournalEuropean Review for Medical and Pharmacological Sciences
Issue number18
StatePublished - 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 Verduci Editore s.r.l. All rights reserved.


  • Breastmilk
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • ISL1
  • Stem cells
  • Transcription factors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology (medical)


Dive into the research topics of 'Human breast milk cells are positive for the pioneer transcription factor ISL1'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this