The assessment of tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes in invasive apocrine carcinoma of the breast in relation to the HER2 status
Keywords:Breast cancer, special types, apocrine carcinoma, tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes (TILs), HER2-low
In the current study, we assessed the prevalence and molecular features of HER2-low phenotype in the apocrine carcinomas of the breast (ApoCa) and its relationship with tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes (TILs). A cohort of 64 well-characterized therapy-naïve ApoCa was used. The TIL distribution was assessed using the hematoxylin and eosin whole slide/scanned images following the international TILs working group recommendations. Next-generation sequencing (NGS) was performed in a subset of HER2-low ApoCa. All patients were women, with a mean age of 62 years. Forty-three carcinomas were pure apocrine carcinoma (PAC; ER−/AR+), and the remaining 21 were classified as apocrine-like carcinomas (ALCs; ER+/−, AR+/−). HER2/neu was positive (score 3+ by IHC and/or amplified by FISH) in 20/43 (47%) PAC and 4/21 (19%) ALC. The prevalence of HER2-low expression (scores 1+ or 2+ without HER2 amplification) in ApoCa was 39% without significant differences between PAC and ALC (P = 0.14); however, the HER2-low phenotype was more prevalent in triple-negative PAC than in ALC (P < 0.001). Levels of TILs were low (≤10%) in 74% of ApoCa (median 5%, range 0%–50%). TIL levels were significantly higher in ALC than in PAC (P = 0.02). HER2 status had no impact on TIL distribution (P = 0.45). The genomic profile of HER2-low ApoCa was similar to other subtypes of ApoCa. ApoCa has predominantly low TIL, particularly PAC. The prevalence of the HER2-low phenotype in ApoCa is high, which should have therapeutic and clinical implications given the recently approved therapies with antibody–drug conjugates (ADCs) for HER2-low breast cancers.
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Copyright (c) 2023 Zoran Gatalica, Nataliya Kuzumova, Inga Rose, Monika Ulamec, Melita Peric Balja, Faruk Skenderi, Semir Vranić
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