Recent studies suggest that intrinsic breast cancer subtypes may differ in their responsiveness to specific chemotherapy regimens. We examined this hypothesis on NCIC.CTG MA.5, a clinical trial randomizing premenopausal women with node-positive breast cancer to adjuvant CMF (cyclophosphamide-methotrexate-fluorouracil) versus CEF (cyclophosphamide-epirubicin-fluorouracil) chemotherapy.
Intrinsic subtype was determined for 476 tumors using the quantitative reverse transcriptase PCR PAM50 gene expression test. Luminal A, luminal B, HER2-enriched (HER2-E), and basal-like subtypes were correlated with relapse-free survival (RFS) and overall survival (OS), estimated using Kaplan-Meier plots and log-rank testing. Multivariable Cox regression analyses determined significance of interaction between treatment and intrinsic subtypes.
Intrinsic subtypes were associated with RFS (P = 0005) and OS (P < 0.0001) on the combined cohort. The HER2-E showed the greatest benefit from CEF versus CMF, with absolute 5-year RFS and OS differences exceeding 20%, whereas there was a less than 2% difference for non-HER2-E tumors (interaction test P = 0.03 for RFS and 0.03 for OS). Within clinically defined Her2+ tumors, 79% (72 of 91) were classified as the HER2-E subtype by gene expression and this subset was strongly associated with better response to CEF versus CMF (62% vs. 22%, P = 0.0006). There was no significant difference in benefit between CEF and CMF in basal-like tumors [n = 94; HR, 1.1; 95% confidence interval (CI), 0.6−.1 for RFS and HR, 1.3; 95% CI, 0.7−2.5 for OS].
HER2-E strongly predicted anthracycline sensitivity. The chemotherapy-sensitive basal- like tumors showed no added benefit for CEF over CMF, suggesting that nonanthracycline regimens may be adequate in this subtype although further investigation is required.
Gene expression profiling classifies breast cancer into intrinsic subtypes based on the biology of the underlying disease pathways. We have used material from a prospective randomized trial of tamoxifen versus placebo in premenopausal women with primary breast cancer (NCIC CTG MA.12) to evaluate the prognostic and predictive significance of intrinsic subtypes identified by both the PAM50 gene set and by immunohistochemistry.
Total RNA from 398 of 672 (59%) patients was available for intrinsic subtyping with a quantitative reverse transcriptase PCR (qRT-PCR) 50-gene predictor (PAM50) for luminal A, luminal B, HER-2–enriched, and basal-like subtypes. A tissue microarray was also constructed from 492 of 672 (73%) of the study population to assess a panel of six immunohistochemical IHC antibodies to define the same intrinsic subtypes.
Classification into intrinsic subtypes by the PAM50 assay was prognostic for both disease-free survival (DFS; P = 0.0003) and overall survival (OS; P = 0.0002), whereas classification by the IHC panel was not. Luminal subtype by PAM50 was predictive of tamoxifen benefit [DFS: HR, 0.52; 95% confidence interval (CI), 0.32–0.86 vs. HR, 0.80; 95% CI, 0.50–1.29 for nonluminal subtypes], although the interaction test was not significant (P = 0.24), whereas neither subtyping by central immunohistochemistry nor by local estrogen receptor (ER) or progesterone receptor (PR) status were predictive. Risk of relapse (ROR) modeling with the PAM50 assay produced a continuous risk score in both node-negative and node-positive disease.
In the MA.12 study, intrinsic subtype classification by qRT-PCR with the PAM50 assay was superior to IHC profiling for both prognosis and prediction of benefit from adjuvant tamoxifen.
Epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) is a targetable receptor frequently overexpressed in basal-like breast cancer, which comprises most triple-negative breast cancers (TNBCs), the only subtype without established targeted therapy.
Patients and Methods
In this randomized phase II trial, patients with metastatic TNBC received anti-EGFR antibody cetuximab (400 mg/m2 load then 250 mg/m2 per week intravenously [IV]) alone, with carboplatin (area under the curve of 2, once per week IV) added after progression or as concomitant therapy from the beginning. Response rate (RR) was the primary end point; others included time to progression (TTP), overall survival (OS), and toxicity. Embedded correlative studies included molecular subtyping on archival tissue. Fresh tumor tissue before and after 7 to 14 days of therapy was used for microarray analyses exploring EGFR pathway activity and inhibition.
In 102 patients with TNBC, RRs were 6% (two of 31) to cetuximab and 16% (four of 25) to cetuximab plus carboplatin after progression. RR to those treated from the beginning with cetuximab plus carboplatin was 17% (12 of 71); 31% of patients responded or had prolonged disease stabilization. The cetuximab plus carboplatin regimen was well tolerated, but both TTP and OS were short at 2.1 months (95% CI, 1.8 to 5.5 months) and 10.4 months (95% CI, 7.7 to 13.1 months), respectively. Of 73 patients with archival tissue for analysis, 74% had basal-like molecular subtype. Sixteen patients had tumor biopsies before and 1 week after therapy; genomic patterns of the EGFR pathway showed activation in 13 and inhibition by therapy in five.
Despite strong preclinical data, combination cetuximab plus carboplatin in metastatic TNBC produced responses in fewer than 20% of patients. EGFR pathway analysis showed that most TNBCs involved activation. However, cetuximab blocked expression of the EGFR pathway in only a minority, suggesting that most had alternate mechanisms for pathway activation.
Risk assignment in breast cancer patients using the PAM50 Breast Cancer Intrinsic Classifier™ and the Oncotype DX® Recurrence Score in the same population was compared. There is good agreement between the two assays for high and low prognostic risk assignment but PAM50 assigns more patients to the low risk category. About half of the intermediate risk RS group was reclassified as low risk luminal A by PAM50, which suggests a potential complementary use for the assays.
To compare risk assignment by PAM50 Breast Cancer Intrinsic Classifier™ and Oncotype DX_Recurrence Score (RS) in the same population.
RNA was extracted from 151 estrogen receptor (ER)+ stage I–II breast cancers and gene expression profiled using PAM50 “intrinsic” subtyping test.
One hundred eight cases had complete molecular information; 103 (95%) were classified as luminal A (n = 76) or luminal B (n = 27). Ninety-two percent (n = 98) had a low (n = 59) or intermediate (n = 39) RS. Among luminal A cancers, 70% had low (n = 53) and the remainder (n = 23) had an intermediate RS. Among luminal B cancers, nine were high (33%) and 13 were intermediate (48%) by the RS. Almost all cancers with a high RS were classified as luminal B (90%, n = 9). One high RS cancer was identified as basal-like and had low ER/ESR1 and low human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2) expression by quantitative polymerase chain reaction in both assays. The majority of low RS cases were luminal A (83%, n = 53). Importantly, half of the intermediate RS cancers were re-categorized as low risk luminal A subtype by PAM50.
There is good agreement between the two assays for high (i.e., luminal B or RS > 31) and low (i.e., luminal B or RS < 18) prognostic risk assignment but PAM50 assigns more patients to the low risk category. About half of the intermediate RS group was reclassified as luminal A by PAM50.
Oncotype DX®; PAM50 assay; Gene expression profiles; Breast cancer; Prognosis
To identify a group of patients who might benefit from the addition of weekly paclitaxel to conventional anthracycline-containing chemotherapy as adjuvant therapy of node-positive operable breast cancer. The predictive value of PAM50 subtypes and the 11-gene proliferation score contained within the PAM50 assay were evaluated in 820 patients from the GEICAM/9906 randomized phase III trial comparing adjuvant FEC to FEC followed by weekly paclitaxel (FEC-P). Multivariable Cox regression analyses of the secondary endpoint of overall survival (OS) were performed to determine the significance of the interaction between treatment and the (1) PAM50 subtypes, (2) PAM50 proliferation score, and (3) clinical and pathological variables. Similar OS analyses were performed in 222 patients treated with weekly paclitaxel versus paclitaxel every 3 weeks in the CALGB/9342 and 9840 metastatic clinical trials. In GEICAM/9906, with a median follow up of 8.7 years, OS of the FEC-P arm was significantly superior compared to the FEC arm (unadjusted HR = 0.693, p = 0.013). A benefit from paclitaxel was only observed in the group of patients with a low PAM50 proliferation score (unadjusted HR = 0.23, p < 0.001; and interaction test, p = 0.006). No significant interactions between treatment and the PAM50 subtypes or the various clinical–pathological variables, including Ki-67 and histologic grade, were identified. Finally, similar OS results were obtained in the CALGB data set, although the interaction test did not reach statistical significance (p = 0.109). The PAM50 proliferation score identifies a subset of patients with a low proliferation status that may derive a larger benefit from weekly paclitaxel.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s10549-013-2416-2) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Breast cancer; Paclitaxel; PAM50 subtypes; PAM50 proliferation score; Prediction of paclitaxel efficacy
Despite improvements in early detection and treatment, cancer remains a major cause of mortality. Death from cancer is largely due to metastasis, which results in spreading of tumor cells to other parts of the body. The metastatic process is poorly understood, is often unpredictable, and usually results in incurable disease. There are no therapies specifically designed to target metastases or to block the metastatic process. Development and pre-clinical testing of new cancer therapies is limited by the scarcity of in vivo models that authentically reproduce human tumor growth and metastatic progression. Here, we report development of novel models for breast tumor growth and metastasis, which exist in the form of transplantable tumors derived directly from patients. These tumor grafts not only represent the diversity of human breast cancer, but also maintain essential features of the original patients’ tumors, including histopathology, clinical markers, hormone responsiveness, and metastasis to specific sites. Genomic features, such as gene expression profiles and DNA copy number variants, are also well maintained between the original specimens and the tumor grafts. We found that co-engraftment of primary human mesenchymal stem cells with tumor grafts helps to maintain the phenotypic stability of the tumors, and increases tumor growth by promoting angiogenesis and reducing necrosis. Remarkably, tumor engraftment is also a prognostic indicator of disease outcome: newly diagnosed women whose primary breast tumor successfully engrafted in mouse mammary glands had significantly reduced survival compared to patients whose tumors did not engraft. Thus, orthotopic breast tumor grafting marks a first step toward personalized medicine by replicating the diversity of human breast cancer through patient-centric models for tumor growth, metastasis, drug efficacy, and prognosis.
Mutations in TP53 lead to a defective G1 checkpoint and the dependence on checkpoint kinase 1 (Chk1) for G2 or S phase arrest in response to DNA damage. In preclinical studies, Chk1 inhibition resulted in enhanced cytotoxicity of several chemotherapeutic agents. The high frequency of TP53 mutations in triple negative breast cancer (TNBC: negative for estrogen receptor, progesterone receptor, and HER2) make Chk1 an attractive therapeutic target. UCN-01, a non-selective Chk1 inhibitor, combined with irinotecan demonstrated activity in advanced TNBC in our Phase I study. The goal of this trial was to further evaluate this treatment in women with TNBC. Patients with metastatic TNBC previously treated with anthracyclines and taxanes received irinotecan (100–125 mg/m2 IV days 1, 8, 15, 22) and UCN-01 (70 mg/m2 IV day 2, 35 mg/m2 day 23 and subsequent doses) every 42-day cycle. Peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) and tumor specimens were collected. Twenty five patients were enrolled. The overall response (complete response (CR) + partial response (PR)) rate was 4 %. The clinical benefit rate (CR + PR + stable disease ≥6 months) was 12 %. Since UCN-01 inhibits PDK1, phosphorylated ribosomal protein S6 (pS6) in PBMC was assessed. Although reduced 24 h post UCN-01, pS6 levels rose to baseline by day 8, indicating loss of UCN-01 bioavailability. Immunostains of γH2AX and pChk1S296 on serial tumor biopsies from four patients demonstrated an induction of DNA damage and Chk1 activation following irinotecan. However, Chk1 inhibition by UCN-01 was not observed in all tumors. Most tumors were basal-like (69 %), and carried mutations in TP53 (53 %). Median overall survival in patients with TP53 mutant tumors was poor compared to wild type (5.5 vs. 20.3 months, p = 0.004). This regimen had limited activity in TNBC. Inconsistent Chk1 inhibition was likely due to the pharmacokinetics of UCN-01. TP53 mutations were associated with a poor prognosis in metastatic TNBC.
Irinotecan; UCN-01; Chk1; Metastatic triple negative breast cancer; TP53; p53
Many methodologies have been used in research to identify the “intrinsic” subtypes of breast cancer commonly known as Luminal A, Luminal B, HER2-Enriched (HER2-E) and Basal-like. The PAM50 gene set is often used for gene expression-based subtyping; however, surrogate subtyping using panels of immunohistochemical (IHC) markers are still widely used clinically. Discrepancies between these methods may lead to different treatment decisions.
We used the PAM50 RT-qPCR assay to expression profile 814 tumors from the GEICAM/9906 phase III clinical trial that enrolled women with locally advanced primary invasive breast cancer. All samples were scored at a single site by IHC for estrogen receptor (ER), progesterone receptor (PR), and Her2/neu (HER2) protein expression. Equivocal HER2 cases were confirmed by chromogenic in situ hybridization (CISH). Single gene scores by IHC/CISH were compared with RT-qPCR continuous gene expression values and “intrinsic” subtype assignment by the PAM50. High, medium, and low expression for ESR1, PGR, ERBB2, and proliferation were selected using quartile cut-points from the continuous RT-qPCR data across the PAM50 subtype assignments.
ESR1, PGR, and ERBB2 gene expression had high agreement with established binary IHC cut-points (area under the curve (AUC) ≥ 0.9). Estrogen receptor positivity by IHC was strongly associated with Luminal (A and B) subtypes (92%), but only 75% of ER negative tumors were classified into the HER2-E and Basal-like subtypes. Luminal A tumors more frequently expressed PR than Luminal B (94% vs 74%) and Luminal A tumors were less likely to have high proliferation (11% vs 77%). Seventy-seven percent (30/39) of ER-/HER2+ tumors by IHC were classified as the HER2-E subtype. Triple negative tumors were mainly comprised of Basal-like (57%) and HER2-E (30%) subtypes. Single gene scoring for ESR1, PGR, and ERBB2 was more prognostic than the corresponding IHC markers as shown in a multivariate analysis.
The standard immunohistochemical panel for breast cancer (ER, PR, and HER2) does not adequately identify the PAM50 gene expression subtypes. Although there is high agreement between biomarker scoring by protein immunohistochemistry and gene expression, the gene expression determinations for ESR1 and ERBB2 status was more prognostic.
Human breast cancer is a heterogeneous disease composed of different histologies and molecular subtypes, many of which are not replicated in animal models. Here, we report a mouse model of breast cancer that generates unique tumor histologies including tubular, adenosquamous, and lipid-rich carcinomas. Utilizing a nononcogenic variant of polyoma middle T oncogene (PyMT) that requires a spontaneous base-pair deletion to transform cells, in conjunction with lentiviral transduction and orthotopic transplantation of primary mammary epithelial cells, this model sporadically induces oncogene expression in both the luminal and myoepithelial cell lineages of the normal mouse mammary epithelium. Microarray and hierarchical analyses using an intrinsic subtype gene set revealed that lentiviral PyMT generates both luminal and basal-like tumors. Cumulatively, these results show that low-level expression of PyMT in a broad range of cell types significantly increases tumor heterogeneity and establishes a mouse model of several rare human breast cancer subtypes.
PyMT; lipid rich; breast cancer; cell of origin; mammary gland
Lung adenocarcinoma (LAD) has extreme genetic variation among patients, which is currently not well understood, limiting progress in therapy development and research. LAD intrinsic molecular subtypes are a validated stratification of naturally-occurring gene expression patterns and encompass different functional pathways and patient outcomes. Patients may have incurred different mutations and alterations that led to the different subtypes. We hypothesized that the LAD molecular subtypes co-occur with distinct mutations and alterations in patient tumors.
The LAD molecular subtypes (Bronchioid, Magnoid, and Squamoid) were tested for association with gene mutations and DNA copy number alterations using statistical methods and published cohorts (n = 504). A novel validation (n = 116) cohort was assayed and interrogated to confirm subtype-alteration associations. Gene mutation rates (EGFR, KRAS, STK11, TP53), chromosomal instability, regional copy number, and genomewide DNA methylation were significantly different among tumors of the molecular subtypes. Secondary analyses compared subtypes by integrated alterations and patient outcomes. Tumors having integrated alterations in the same gene associated with the subtypes, e.g. mutation, deletion and underexpression of STK11 with Magnoid, and mutation, amplification, and overexpression of EGFR with Bronchioid. The subtypes also associated with tumors having concurrent mutant genes, such as KRAS-STK11 with Magnoid. Patient overall survival, cisplatin plus vinorelbine therapy response and predicted gefitinib sensitivity were significantly different among the subtypes.
The lung adenocarcinoma intrinsic molecular subtypes co-occur with grossly distinct genomic alterations and with patient therapy response. These results advance the understanding of lung adenocarcinoma etiology and nominate patient subgroups for future evaluation of treatment response.
Multivariate assays (MVAs) for assisting clinical decisions are becoming commonly available, but due to complexity, are often considered a high-risk approach. A key concern is that uncertainty on the assay's final results is not well understood. This study focuses on developing a process to characterize error introduced in the MVA's results from the intrinsic error in the laboratory process: sample preparation and measurement of the contributing factors, such as gene expression.
Using the PAM50 Breast Cancer Intrinsic Classifier, we show how to characterize error within an MVA, and how these errors may affect results reported to clinicians. First we estimated the error distribution for measured factors within the PAM50 assay by performing repeated measures on four archetypal samples representative of the major breast cancer tumor subtypes. Then, using the error distributions and the original archetypal sample data, we used Monte Carlo simulations to generate a sufficient number of simulated samples. The effect of these errors on the PAM50 tumor subtype classification was estimated by measuring subtype reproducibility after classifying all simulated samples. Subtype reproducibility was measured as the percentage of simulated samples classified identically to the parent sample. The simulation was thereafter repeated on a large, independent data set of samples from the GEICAM 9906 clinical trial. Simulated samples from the GEICAM sample set were used to explore a more realistic scenario where, unlike archetypal samples, many samples are not easily classified.
All simulated samples derived from the archetypal samples were classified identically to the parent sample. Subtypes for simulated samples from the GEICAM set were also highly reproducible, but there were a non-negligible number of samples that exhibit significant variability in their classification.
We have developed a general methodology to estimate the effects of intrinsic errors within MVAs. We have applied the method to the PAM50 assay, showing that the PAM50 results are resilient to intrinsic errors within the assay, but also finding that in non-archetypal samples, experimental errors can lead to quite different classification of a tumor. Finally we propose a way to provide the uncertainty information in a usable way for clinicians.
Multivariate Assays; PAM50; Monte Carlo Simulations; Breast Cancer
To compare clinical, immunohistochemical and gene expression models of prognosis applicable to formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded blocks in a large series of estrogen receptor positive breast cancers, from patients uniformly treated with adjuvant tamoxifen.
qRT-PCR assays for 50 genes identifying intrinsic breast cancer subtypes were completed on 786 specimens linked to clinical (median followup 11.7 years) and immunohistochemical (ER, PR, HER2, Ki67) data. Performance of predefined intrinsic subtype and Risk-Of-Relapse scores was assessed using multivariable Cox models and Kaplan-Meier analysis. Harrell’s C index was used to compare fixed models trained in independent data sets, including proliferation signatures.
Despite clinical ER positivity, 10% of cases were assigned to non-Luminal subtypes. qRT-PCR signatures for proliferation genes gave more prognostic information than clinical assays for hormone receptors or Ki67. In Cox models incorporating standard prognostic variables, hazard ratios for breast cancer disease specific survival over the first 5 years of followup, relative to the most common Luminal A subtype, are 1.99 (95% CI: 1.09–3.64) for Luminal B, 3.65 (1.64–8.16) for HER2-enriched and 17.71 (1.71–183.33) for the basal like subtype. For node-negative disease, PAM50 qRT-PCR based risk assignment weighted for tumor size and proliferation identifies a group with >95% 10 yr survival without chemotherapy. In node positive disease, PAM50-based prognostic models were also superior.
The PAM50 gene expression test for intrinsic biological subtype can be applied to large series of formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded breast cancers, and gives more prognostic information than clinical factors and immunohistochemistry using standard cutpoints.
Sedation for pediatric cardiac catheterization is a common requirement in many institutions. As the field of cardiac catheterization has evolved, the provision of sedation for these procedures has been varied. Increasingly the demand is for dedicated personnel focused on monitoring and delivery of sedation while in the catheterization suite. This article describes the considerations one must use when undertaking these cases.
sedation; pediatric cardiac catheterization; congenital heart disease; propofol; dexmedetomidine; ketamine; etomidate; midazolam.
Lung squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is clinically and genetically heterogeneous and current diagnostic practices do not adequately substratify this heterogeneity. A robust, biologically-based SCC subclassification may describe this variability and lead to more precise patient prognosis and management. We sought to determine if SCC mRNA expression subtypes exist, are reproducible across multiple patient cohorts, and are clinically relevant.
Subtypes were detected by unsupervised consensus clustering in five published discovery cohorts of mRNA microarrays, totaling 382 SCC patients. An independent validation cohort of 56 SCC patients was collected and assayed by microarrays. A nearest-centroid subtype predictor was built using discovery cohorts. Validation cohort subtypes were predicted and evaluated for confirmation. Subtype survival outcome, clinical covariates, and biological processes were compared by statistical and bioinformatic methods.
Four lung SCC mRNA expression subtypes, named primitive, classical, secretory, and basal, were detected and independently validated (P < 0.001). The primitive subtype had the worst survival outcome (P < 0.05) and is an independent predictor of survival (P < 0.05). Tumor differentiation and patient sex were associated with subtype. The subtypes’ expression profiles contained distinct biological processes (primitive – proliferation, classical – xeniobiotics metabolism, secretory – immune response, basal – cell adhesion) and suggested distinct pharmacologic interventions. Comparison to lung model systems revealed distinct subtype to cell type correspondence.
Lung SCC consists of four mRNA expression subtypes that have different survival outcomes, patient populations, and biological processes. The subtypes stratify patients for more precise prognosis and targeted research.
lung cancer; squamous cell carcinoma; subtype; cell type; gene expression
Although collections of formalin fixed paraffin embedded (FFPE) samples exist, sometimes representing decades of stored samples, they have not typically been utilized to their full potential. Normal tissue from such samples would be extremely valuable for generation of genotype data for individuals who cannot otherwise provide a DNA sample.
We extracted DNA from normal tissue identified in FFPE tissue blocks from prostate surgery and obtained complete genome wide genotype data for over 500,000 SNP markers for these samples, and for DNA extracted from whole blood for 2 of the cases, for comparison.
Four of the five FFPE samples of varying age and amount of tissue had identifiable normal tissue. We obtained good quality genotype data for between 89 and 99% of all SNP markers for the 4 samples from FFPE. Concordance rates of over 99% were observed for the 2 samples with DNA from both FFPE and from whole blood.
DNA extracted from normal FFPE tissue provides excellent quality and quantity genome-wide genotyping data representing germline DNA, sufficient for both linkage and association analyses. This allows genetic analysis of informative individuals who are no longer available for sampling in genetic studies.
To improve on current standards for breast cancer prognosis and prediction of chemotherapy benefit by developing a risk model that incorporates the gene expression–based “intrinsic” subtypes luminal A, luminal B, HER2-enriched, and basal-like.
A 50-gene subtype predictor was developed using microarray and quantitative reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction data from 189 prototype samples. Test sets from 761 patients (no systemic therapy) were evaluated for prognosis, and 133 patients were evaluated for prediction of pathologic complete response (pCR) to a taxane and anthracycline regimen.
The intrinsic subtypes as discrete entities showed prognostic significance (P = 2.26E-12) and remained significant in multivariable analyses that incorporated standard parameters (estrogen receptor status, histologic grade, tumor size, and node status). A prognostic model for node-negative breast cancer was built using intrinsic subtype and clinical information. The C-index estimate for the combined model (subtype and tumor size) was a significant improvement on either the clinicopathologic model or subtype model alone. The intrinsic subtype model predicted neoadjuvant chemotherapy efficacy with a negative predictive value for pCR of 97%.
Diagnosis by intrinsic subtype adds significant prognostic and predictive information to standard parameters for patients with breast cancer. The prognostic properties of the continuous risk score will be of value for the management of node-negative breast cancers. The subtypes and risk score can also be used to assess the likelihood of efficacy from neoadjuvant chemotherapy.
Gene expression profiling of breast cancer has identified two biologically distinct estrogen receptor (ER)-positive subtypes of breast cancer: luminal A and luminal B. Luminal B tumors have higher proliferation and poorer prognosis than luminal A tumors. In this study, we developed a clinically practical immunohistochemistry assay to distinguish luminal B from luminal A tumors and investigated its ability to separate tumors according to breast cancer recurrence-free and disease-specific survival.
Tumors from a cohort of 357 patients with invasive breast carcinomas were subtyped by gene expression profile. Hormone receptor status, HER2 status, and the Ki67 index (percentage of Ki67-positive cancer nuclei) were determined immunohistochemically. Receiver operating characteristic curves were used to determine the Ki67 cut point to distinguish luminal B from luminal A tumors. The prognostic value of the immunohistochemical assignment for breast cancer recurrence-free and disease-specific survival was investigated with an independent tissue microarray series of 4046 breast cancers by use of Kaplan–Meier curves and multivariable Cox regression.
Gene expression profiling classified 101 (28%) of the 357 tumors as luminal A and 69 (19%) as luminal B. The best Ki67 index cut point to distinguish luminal B from luminal A tumors was 13.25%. In an independent cohort of 4046 patients with breast cancer, 2847 had hormone receptor–positive tumors. When HER2 immunohistochemistry and the Ki67 index were used to subtype these 2847 tumors, we classified 1530 (59%, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 57% to 61%) as luminal A, 846 (33%, 95% CI = 31% to 34%) as luminal B, and 222 (9%, 95% CI = 7% to 10%) as luminal–HER2 positive. Luminal B and luminal–HER2-positive breast cancers were statistically significantly associated with poor breast cancer recurrence-free and disease-specific survival in all adjuvant systemic treatment categories. Of particular relevance are women who received tamoxifen as their sole adjuvant systemic therapy, among whom the 10-year breast cancer–specific survival was 79% (95% CI = 76% to 83%) for luminal A, 64% (95% CI = 59% to 70%) for luminal B, and 57% (95% CI = 47% to 69%) for luminal–HER2 subtypes.
Expression of ER, progesterone receptor, and HER2 proteins and the Ki67 index appear to distinguish luminal A from luminal B breast cancer subtypes.
A correction to Statistical modeling for selecting housekeeper genes by Aniko Szabo, Charles M Perou, Mehmet Karaca, Laurent Perreard, John F Quackenbush, and Philip S Bernard. Genome Biology 2004, 5:R59
The epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR/HER1) and its downstream signaling events are important for regulating cell growth and behavior in many epithelial tumors types. In breast cancer, the role of EGFR is complex and appears to vary relative to important clinical features including estrogen receptor (ER) status. To investigate EGFR-signaling using a genomics approach, several breast basal-like and luminal epithelial cell lines were examined for sensitivity to EGFR inhibitors. An EGFR-associated gene expression signature was identified in the basal-like SUM102 cell line and was used to classify a diverse set of sporadic breast tumors.
In vitro, breast basal-like cell lines were more sensitive to EGFR inhibitors compared to luminal cell lines. The basal-like tumor derived lines were also the most sensitive to carboplatin, which acted synergistically with cetuximab. An EGFR-associated signature was developed in vitro, evaluated on 241 primary breast tumors; three distinct clusters of genes were evident in vivo, two of which were predictive of poor patient outcomes. These EGFR-associated poor prognostic signatures were highly expressed in almost all basal-like tumors and many of the HER2+/ER- and Luminal B tumors.
These results suggest that breast basal-like cell lines are sensitive to EGFR inhibitors and carboplatin, and this combination may also be synergistic. In vivo, the EGFR-signatures were of prognostic value, were associated with tumor subtype, and were uniquely associated with the high expression of distinct EGFR-RAS-MEK pathway genes.
Comparison of mammary tumor gene-expression profiles from thirteen murine models using microarrays and with that of human breast tumors showed that many of the defining characteristics of human subtypes were conserved among mouse models.
Although numerous mouse models of breast carcinomas have been developed, we do not know the extent to which any faithfully represent clinically significant human phenotypes. To address this need, we characterized mammary tumor gene expression profiles from 13 different murine models using DNA microarrays and compared the resulting data to those from human breast tumors.
Unsupervised hierarchical clustering analysis showed that six models (TgWAP-Myc, TgMMTV-Neu, TgMMTV-PyMT, TgWAP-Int3, TgWAP-Tag, and TgC3(1)-Tag) yielded tumors with distinctive and homogeneous expression patterns within each strain. However, in each of four other models (TgWAP-T121, TgMMTV-Wnt1, Brca1Co/Co;TgMMTV-Cre;p53+/- and DMBA-induced), tumors with a variety of histologies and expression profiles developed. In many models, similarities to human breast tumors were recognized, including proliferation and human breast tumor subtype signatures. Significantly, tumors of several models displayed characteristics of human basal-like breast tumors, including two models with induced Brca1 deficiencies. Tumors of other murine models shared features and trended towards significance of gene enrichment with human luminal tumors; however, these murine tumors lacked expression of estrogen receptor (ER) and ER-regulated genes. TgMMTV-Neu tumors did not have a significant gene overlap with the human HER2+/ER- subtype and were more similar to human luminal tumors.
Many of the defining characteristics of human subtypes were conserved among the mouse models. Although no single mouse model recapitulated all the expression features of a given human subtype, these shared expression features provide a common framework for an improved integration of murine mammary tumor models with human breast tumors.
Validation of a novel gene expression signature in independent data sets is a critical step in the development of a clinically useful test for cancer patient risk-stratification. However, validation is often unconvincing because the size of the test set is typically small. To overcome this problem we used publicly available breast cancer gene expression data sets and a novel approach to data fusion, in order to validate a new breast tumor intrinsic list.
A 105-tumor training set containing 26 sample pairs was used to derive a new breast tumor intrinsic gene list. This intrinsic list contained 1300 genes and a proliferation signature that was not present in previous breast intrinsic gene sets. We tested this list as a survival predictor on a data set of 311 tumors compiled from three independent microarray studies that were fused into a single data set using Distance Weighted Discrimination. When the new intrinsic gene set was used to hierarchically cluster this combined test set, tumors were grouped into LumA, LumB, Basal-like, HER2+/ER-, and Normal Breast-like tumor subtypes that we demonstrated in previous datasets. These subtypes were associated with significant differences in Relapse-Free and Overall Survival. Multivariate Cox analysis of the combined test set showed that the intrinsic subtype classifications added significant prognostic information that was independent of standard clinical predictors. From the combined test set, we developed an objective and unchanging classifier based upon five intrinsic subtype mean expression profiles (i.e. centroids), which is designed for single sample predictions (SSP). The SSP approach was applied to two additional independent data sets and consistently predicted survival in both systemically treated and untreated patient groups.
This study validates the "breast tumor intrinsic" subtype classification as an objective means of tumor classification that should be translated into a clinical assay for further retrospective and prospective validation. In addition, our method of combining existing data sets can be used to robustly validate the potential clinical value of any new gene expression profile.
Predicting the clinical course of breast cancer is often difficult because it is a diverse disease comprised of many biological subtypes. Gene expression profiling by microarray analysis has identified breast cancer signatures that are important for prognosis and treatment. In the current article, we use microarray analysis and a real-time quantitative reverse-transcription (qRT)-PCR assay to risk-stratify breast cancers based on biological 'intrinsic' subtypes and proliferation.
Gene sets were selected from microarray data to assess proliferation and to classify breast cancers into four different molecular subtypes, designated Luminal, Normal-like, HER2+/ER-, and Basal-like. One-hundred and twenty-three breast samples (117 invasive carcinomas, one fibroadenoma and five normal tissues) and three breast cancer cell lines were prospectively analyzed using a microarray (Agilent) and a qRT-PCR assay comprised of 53 genes. Biological subtypes were assigned from the microarray and qRT-PCR data by hierarchical clustering. A proliferation signature was used as a single meta-gene (log2 average of 14 genes) to predict outcome within the context of estrogen receptor status and biological 'intrinsic' subtype.
We found that the qRT-PCR assay could determine the intrinsic subtype (93% concordance with microarray-based assignments) and that the intrinsic subtypes were predictive of outcome. The proliferation meta-gene provided additional prognostic information for patients with the Luminal subtype (P = 0.0012), and for patients with estrogen receptor-positive tumors (P = 3.4 × 10-6). High proliferation in the Luminal subtype conferred a 19-fold relative risk of relapse (confidence interval = 95%) compared with Luminal tumors with low proliferation.
A real-time qRT-PCR assay can recapitulate microarray classifications of breast cancer and can risk-stratify patients using the intrinsic subtype and proliferation. The proliferation meta-gene offers an objective and quantitative measurement for grade and adds significant prognostic information to the biological subtypes.
Statistical models are presented for selecting the best housekeepers to normalize quantitative data within a given tissue type and across different types of tissue samples.
There is a need for statistical methods to identify genes that have minimal variation in expression across a variety of experimental conditions. These 'housekeeper' genes are widely employed as controls for quantification of test genes using gel analysis and real-time RT-PCR. Using real-time quantitative RT-PCR, we analyzed 80 primary breast tumors for variation in expression of six putative housekeeper genes (MRPL19 (mitochondrial ribosomal protein L19), PSMC4 (proteasome (prosome, macropain) 26S subunit, ATPase, 4), SF3A1 (splicing factor 3a, subunit 1, 120 kDa), PUM1 (pumilio homolog 1 (Drosophila)), ACTB (actin, beta) and GAPD (glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase)). We present appropriate models for selecting the best housekeepers to normalize quantitative data within a given tissue type (for example, breast cancer) and across different types of tissue samples.