J Natl Cancer Inst. 2014 Aug 19;106(8). pii: dju152. doi: 10.1093/jnci/dju152. Print 2014 Aug.
Molecular features and survival outcomes of the intrinsic subtypes within HER2-positive breast cancer.
The clinical impact of the biological heterogeneity within HER2-positive (HER2+) breast cancer is not fully understood. Here, we evaluated the molecular features and survival outcomes of the intrinsic subtypes within HER2+ breast cancer.
We interrogated The Cancer Genome Atlas (n = 495) and Molecular Taxonomy of Breast Cancer International Consortium (METABRIC) datasets (n = 1730) of primary breast cancers for molecular data derived from DNA, RNA and protein, and determined intrinsic subtype. Clinical HER2 status was defined according to American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO)/College of American Pathologists (CAP) guidelines or DNA copy-number aberration by single nucleotide polymorphism arrays. Cox models tested the prognostic significance of each variable in patients not treated with trastuzumab (n = 1711).
Compared with clinically HER2 (cHER2)-negative breast cancer, cHER2+ breast cancer had a higher frequency of the HER2-enriched (HER2E) subtype (47.0% vs 7.1%) and a lower frequency of Luminal A (10.7% vs 39.0%) and Basal-like (14.1% vs 23.4%) subtypes. The likelihood of cHER2-positivity in HER2E, Luminal B, Basal-like and Luminal A subtypes was 64.6%, 20.0%, 14.4% and 7.3%, respectively. Within each subtype, only 0.3% to 3.9% of genes were found differentially expressed between cHER2+ and cHER2-negative tumors. Within cHER2+ tumors, HER2 gene and protein expression was statistically significantly higher in the HER2E and Basal-like subtypes than either luminal subtype. Neither cHER2 status nor the new 10-subtype copy number-based classification system (IntClust) added independent prognostic value to intrinsic subtype.
When the intrinsic subtypes are taken into account, cHER2-positivity does not translate into large changes in the expression of downstream signaling pathways, nor does it affect patient survival in the absence of HER2 targeting.
© The Author 2014. Published by Oxford University Press.
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