Tumor levels of the mediators of ErbB2-driven anoikis resistance correlate with breast cancer relapse in patients receiving trastuzumab-based therapies

Alexi Surette, Byong Hoon Yoo, Tallal Younis, Kara Matheson, Tarek Rameh, Jaime Snowdon, Gillian Bethune, Kirill V. Rosen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Purpose: Patients with ErbB2/Her2 oncoprotein-positive breast cancers often receive neoadjuvant therapies (NATs) containing the anti-ErbB2 antibody trastuzumab. Tumors that are still present after NATs are resected, and patients continue receiving trastuzumab. These cancers are associated with high relapse risk. Whether relapse will occur cannot be presently reliably predicted. The ability to make such predictions could improve disease management. We found previously that ErbB2 blocks breast tumor cell anoikis, apoptosis induced by cell detachment from the extracellular matrix, by downregulating the pro-apoptotic protein Irf6 and upregulating the anti-apoptotic protein Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor (EGFR) in the cells and, thus, promotes their three-dimensional growth. We now tested whether tumor levels of these proteins before and after NATs correlate with patients’ relapse-free survival (RFS) and overall survival (OS). Methods: We selected archival breast tumor samples collected from 37 women with ErbB2-positive stages II and III breast cancer before and after NATs. We used immunohistochemistry to test whether levels of the indicated proteins in respective tumors correlate with RFS and OS. Results: We observed that the presence of high Irf6 levels in the tumors following NATs correlated with reduced RFS and OS. Perhaps not by coincidence, we noticed that trastuzumab-sensitive ErbB2-positive breast cancer cells selected for the ability to overproduce exogenous Irf6 in culture acquired trastuzumab resistance. Finally, EGFR presence in patients’ tumors before or after NATs was associated with decreased RFS and OS. Conclusions: This study could help identify patients with ErbB2-positive tumors that are at increased risk of disease relapse following NATs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)743-758
Number of pages16
JournalBreast Cancer Research and Treatment
Volume187
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2021
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • EGFR
  • ErbB2/Her2
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Irf6
  • Neoadjuvant therapy
  • Trastuzumab

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research

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