Proliferation and tumor differentiation captured by the genomic grade index (GGI) are important prognostic indicators in breast cancer (BC) especially for the estrogen receptor positive (ER+) disease. The aims of this study were to convert this microarray index to a qRT-PCR assay (PCR-GGI), which could be realized on formalin fixed paraffin embedded samples (FFPE), and to assess its prognostic performance and predictive value of clinical benefit in early and advanced ER+ BC patients treated with tamoxifen.
The accuracy and concordance of the PCR-GGI with the GGI was assessed using BC patients for which frozen and FFPE tissues as well as microarray data were available (n = 19). The evaluation of the prognostic value of the PCR-GGI was assessed on FFPE material using a consecutive series of 212 systemically treated early BC patients. The predictive performance for tamoxifen benefit was assessed using two ER+ BC populations treated either with adjuvant tamoxifen only (n = 77+139) or first-line tamoxifen for advanced disease (n = 270).
The PCR-GGI is based on the expression of 8 genes (4 representative of the GGI and 4 reference genes). A significant correlation was observed between the microarray-derived GGI and the qRT-PCR assay using frozen (ρ = 0.95, p < 10E-06) and FFPE material (ρ = 0.89, p < 10E-06). The prognostic performance of the PCR-GGI was confirmed on FFPE samples (HRunivar. = 1.89; [95CI:1.01-3.54], p = 0.05). The PCR-GGI further identified two subgroups of patients with statistically different time to distant metastasis free survival (DMFS) across the two cohorts of ER+ BC patients treated with adjuvant tamoxifen. Additionally, the PCR-GGI was associated with response to tamoxifen in the advanced setting (HRunivar. = 1.98; [95CI:1.51-2.59], p = 6.9E-07).
PCR-GGI recapitulates in an accurate and reproducible manner the performances of the GGI using frozen and FFPE samples.