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1.  p53 centrosomal localization diagnoses ataxia-telangiectasia homozygotes and heterozygotes 
The Journal of Clinical Investigation  2013;123(3):1335-1342.
Ataxia-telangiectasia (A-T) is an autosomal recessive neurodegenerative disorder characterized by radiosensitivity, genomic instability, and predisposition to cancer. A-T is caused by biallelic mutations in the ataxia-telangiectasia mutated (ATM) gene, but heterozygous carriers, though apparently healthy, are believed to be at increased risk for cancer and more sensitive to ionizing radiation than the general population. Despite progress in functional and sequencing-based assays, no straightforward, rapid, and inexpensive test is available for the identification of A-T homozygotes and heterozygotes, which is essential for diagnosis, genetic counseling, and carrier prediction. The oncosuppressor p53 prevents genomic instability and centrosomal amplification. During mitosis, p53 localizes at the centrosome in an ATM-dependent manner. We capitalized on the latter finding and established a simple, fast, minimally invasive, reliable, and inexpensive test to determine mutant ATM zygosity. The percentage of mitotic lymphoblasts or PBMCs bearing p53 centrosomal localization clearly discriminated among healthy donors (>75%), A-T heterozygotes (40%–56%), and A-T homozygotes (<30%). The test is specific for A-T, independent of the type of ATM mutations, and recognized tumor-associated ATM polymorphisms. In a preliminary study, our test confirmed that ATM is a breast cancer susceptibility gene. These data open the possibility of cost-effective, early diagnosis of A-T homozygotes and large-scale screenings for heterozygotes.
PMCID: PMC3582149  PMID: 23454770
2.  Maintenance bevacizumab beyond first-line paclitaxel plus bevacizumab in patients with Her2-negative hormone receptor-positive metastatic breast cancer: efficacy in combination with hormonal therapy 
BMC Cancer  2012;12:482.
Data on efficacy of bevacizumab (B) beyond first-line taxane -including regimen (BT) as first-line treatment are lacking. Although preclinical results that anti-angiogenic agents combined with hormonal therapy (HT) could be active, no clinical data exist about combination of maintenance Bevacizumab (mBev) with HT.
Thirty-five patients who experienced a response after first-line BT, were given mBev at the dose of 15 mg/kg every 3 weeks. Among 30 pts with hormonal receptor-positive metastatic breast cancer (MBC), 20 (66.6%) received HT with mBev (mHTBev). Objective of the study was the outcome and safety of mBev and in two groups of patients receiving HT or not.
Complete response and partial response was achieved/maintained in 4 (11.4%) and 13 (37.1%) patients, respectively (overall response rate: 48.5%). Clinical benefit was obtained on 23 patients (65.7%). Median of mBev PFS and clinical benefit were 6.8 months (95% CI: 0.8-12.7) and 17.1 months (95% CI :12.2-21.9), respectively. Median PFS of patients who received mHTBev was longer than mBev without HT (13 months and 4.1 months, respectively, p = 0.05). The most common severe toxicities were proteinuria (11.4%) and hypertension (8.5%). No additional toxicity was observed with HTBev.
Maintenance bevacizumab with or without anti-hormonal therapy in patients with hormone receptor positive breast cancer is tolerable and associated with long-term clinical outcome; these results encourage the strategy of prolonging bevacizumab until progression in combination with anti-hormonal agents.
PMCID: PMC3488474  PMID: 23083011
Maintenance Bevacizumab; Antiangiogenic agents; HER2 negative metastatic breast cancer
3.  Magnitude of risks and benefits of the addition of bevacizumab to chemotherapy for advanced breast cancer patients: Meta-regression analysis of randomized trials 
Although the addition of bevacizumab significantly improves the efficacy of chemotherapy for advanced breast cancer, regulatory concerns still exist with regard to the magnitude of the benefits and the overall safety profile.
A literature-based meta-analysis to quantify the magnitude of benefit and safety of adding bevacizumab to chemotherapy for advanced breast cancer patients was conducted. Meta-regression and sensitivity analyses were also performed to identify additional predictors of outcome and to assess the influence of trial design.
Five trials (3,841 patients) were gathered. A significant interaction according to treatment line was found for progression-free survival (PFS, p = 0.027); PFS was significantly improved for 1st line (Hazard Ratio, HR 0.68, p < 0.0001), with a 1-yr absolute difference (AD) of 8.4% (number needed to treat, NNT 12). A non-significant trend was found in overall survival (OS), and in PFS for 2nd line. Responses were improved with the addition of bevacizumab, without interaction between 1st line (Relative Risk, RR 1.46, p < 0.0001) and 2nd line (RR 1.58, p = 0.05). The most important toxicity was hypertension, accounting for a significant AD of 4.5% against bevacizumab (number needed to harm, NNH 22). Other significant, although less clinically meaningful, adverse events were proteinuria, neurotoxicity, febrile neutropenia, and bleeding. At the meta-regression analysis for 1st-line, more than 3 metastatic sites (p = 0.032), no adjuvant chemotherapy (p = 0.00013), negative hormonal receptor status (p = 0.009), and prior anthracyclines-exposure (p = 0.019), did significantly affect PFS.
Although with heterogeneity, the addition of bevacizumab to 1st-line chemotherapy significantly improves PFS, and overall activity. Hypertension should be weighted with the overall benefit on the individual basis.
PMCID: PMC3120715  PMID: 21569417
4.  Impact of hormonal treatment duration in combination with radiotherapy for locally advanced prostate cancer: Meta-analysis of randomized trials 
BMC Cancer  2010;10:675.
Hormone therapy plus radiotherapy significantly decreases recurrences and mortality of patients affected by locally advanced prostate cancer. In order to determine if difference exists according to the hormonal treatment duration, a literature-based meta-analysis was performed.
Relative risks (RR) were derived through a random-effect model. Differences in primary (biochemical failure, BF; cancer-specific survival, CSS), and secondary outcomes (overall survival, OS; local or distant recurrence, LR/DM) were explored. Absolute differences (AD) and the number needed to treat (NNT) were calculated. Heterogeneity, a meta-regression for clinic-pathological predictors and a correlation test for surrogates were conducted.
Five trials (3,424 patients) were included. Patient population ranged from 267 to 1,521 patients. The longer hormonal treatment significantly improves BF (with significant heterogeneity) with an absolute benefit of 10.1%, and a non significant trend in CSS. With regard to secondary end-points, the longer hormonal treatment significantly decrease both the LR and the DM with an absolute difference of 11.7% and 11.5%. Any significant difference in OS was observed. None of the three identified clinico-pathological predictors (median PSA, range 9.5-20.35, Gleason score 7-10, 27-55% patients/trial, and T3-4, 13-77% patients/trial), did significantly affect outcomes. At the meta-regression analysis a significant correlation between the overall treatment benefit in BF, CSS, OS, LR and DM, and the length of the treatment was found (p≤0.03).
Although with significant heterogeneity (reflecting different patient' risk stratifications), a longer hormonal treatment duration significantly decreases biochemical, local and distant recurrences, with a trend for longer cancer specific survival.
PMCID: PMC3016294  PMID: 21143897
5.  A divergent role for estrogen receptor-beta in node-positive and node-negative breast cancer classified according to molecular subtypes: an observational prospective study 
Estrogen receptor-alpha (ER-α) and progesterone receptor (PgR) are consolidated predictors of response to hormonal therapy (HT). In contrast, little information regarding the role of estrogen receptor-beta (ER-β) in various breast cancer risk groups treated with different therapeutic regimens is available. In particular, there are no data concerning ER-β distribution within the novel molecular breast cancer subtypes luminal A (LA) and luminal B (LB), HER2 (HS), and triple-negative (TN).
We conducted an observational prospective study using immunohistochemistry to evaluate ER-β expression in 936 breast carcinomas. Associations with conventional biopathological factors and with molecular subtypes were analyzed by multiple correspondence analysis (MCA), while univariate and multivariate Cox regression analysis and classification and regression tree analysis were applied to determine the impact of ER-β on disease-free survival in the 728 patients with complete follow-up data.
ER-β evenly distributes (55.5%) across the four molecular breast cancer subtypes, confirming the lack of correlation between ER-β and classical prognosticators. However, the relationships among the biopathological factors, analyzed by MCA, showed that ER-β positivity is located in the quadrant containing more aggressive phenotypes such as HER2 and TN or ER-α/PgR/Bcl2- tumors. Kaplan-Meier curves and Cox regression analysis identified ER-β as a significant discriminating factor for disease-free survival both in the node-negative LA (P = 0.02) subgroup, where it is predictive of response to HT, and in the node-positive LB (P = 0.04) group, where, in association with PgR negativity, it conveys a higher risk of relapse.
Our data indicated that, in contrast to node-negative patients, in node-positive breast cancer patients, ER-β positivity appears to be a biomarker related to a more aggressive clinical course. In this context, further investigations are necessary to better assess the role of the different ER-β isophorms.
PMCID: PMC2614505  PMID: 18771580
6.  Induction of ErbB-3 Expression by α6β4 Integrin Contributes to Tamoxifen Resistance in ERβ1-Negative Breast Carcinomas 
PLoS ONE  2008;3(2):e1592.
Tamoxifen is still the most widely used drug in hormone therapy for the treatment of breast cancer. Its benefits in adjuvant treatment are well documented in controlled and randomized clinical studies, which have demonstrated an increase in disease-free intervals of patients with positive hormonal receptors. However, the mechanisms involved in endocrine resistance are not clear. Laboratory and clinical data now indicate that bi-directional molecular cross-talk between nuclear or membrane ER and growth factor receptor pathways may be involved in endocrine resistance. We recently found a functional interaction between α6β4 integrin and ErbB-3 receptor to maintain the PI3K/Akt survival pathway of mammary tumour cells. We sought to improve understanding of this process in order to provide the involvement of both receptors insight into mechanism of Tamoxifen resistance.
Methods and Findings
Using human breast cancer cell lines displaying different levels of α6β4 and ErbB-3 receptors and a series of 232 breast cancer biopsies from patients submitted to adjuvant Tamoxifen monotherapy for five years, we evaluated the functional interaction between both receptors in relationship to Tamoxifen responsiveness. In mammary carcinoma cells, we evidenced that the α6β4 integrin strongly influence Akt phosphorylation through ErbB-3 protein regulation. Moreover, the ErbB-3 inactivation inhibits Akt phosphorylation, induces apoptosis and inhibits in vitro invasion favouring Tamoxifen responsiveness. The analysis of human tumors revealed a significant relationship between α6β4 and ErbB-3 in P-Akt-positive and ERβ1-negative breast cancers derived from patients with lower disease free survival.
We provided evidence that a strong relationship occurs between α6β4 and ErbB-3 positivity in ERβ1-negative breast cancers. We also found that the association between ErbB-3 and P-Akt positivity mainly occurs in ERβ1-negative breast cancer derived from patients with lower DFS indicating that both receptors are clinically relevant in predicting the response to Tamoxifen.
PMCID: PMC2220038  PMID: 18270579

Results 1-6 (6)