25 Pre treatment, 25 two week and 25 three month on-treatment primary breast tumour samples from the same patients.
Purpose Aromatase inhibitors (AIs) have an established role in breast cancer treatment. Response rates are only 50-70% in the neoadjuvant setting and lower in advanced disease. Accurate biomarkers are urgently needed to predict response in these settings and to determine which individuals will benefit from adjuvant AI therapy.
Participants and Methods Pre- and on-treatment (after 2 weeks and 3 months) biopsies were obtained from 89 post-menopausal women with ER+ breast cancer receiving neoadjuvant letrozole for transcript profiling. Dynamic clinical response was assessed by three-dimensional ultrasound measurements.
Results The molecular response to letrozole was characterised and a four gene classifier of clinical response was established (accuracy of 96%) based upon the level of two genes prior to treatment (one associated with immune signalling, IL6ST and the other with apoptosis, NGFRAP1) and two proliferation genes (ASPM, MCM4) at 2 weeks of therapy. The four gene signature was found to be 91% accurate in a blinded, completely independent validation dataset of patients treated with anastrozole. Matched 2 week on-treatment biopsies improved predictive power over pre-treatment biopsies alone. This signature also significantly predicted recurrence free survival (p=0.029) and breast cancer specific survival (p=0.009). We demonstrate that the test can also be performed using quantitative PCR or immunohistochemistry.
Conclusion A four gene predictive model of clinical response to AIs by two weeks has been generated and validated. Deregulated immune and apoptotic responses before treatment and a failure to reduce proliferation by 2 weeks are functional characteristics of breast tumours that do not respond to AIs.
Turnbull AK, Arthur LM, Renshaw L, Larionov AA et al. Accurate prediction and validation of response to endocrine therapy in breast cancer. National Center for Biotechnology Information (Gene Expression Omnibus). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/geo/query/acc.cgi?acc=GSE59515. (2015)