EZH2 Protein Expression in Triple-negative Breast Cancer Treated with Neoadjuvant Chemotherapy: An Exploratory Study of Association with Tumor Response and Prognosis

Susan A. Fineberg, Xuejun Tian, Della Makower, Malini Harigopal, Yungtai Lo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Introduction: Neaodjuvant chemotherapy is used to treat high risk triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC). Residual cancer burden (RCB) is used to predict risk of relapse after neoadjuvant chemotherapy (NAC); however, it cannot predict disease recurrence with certainty. EZH2 is a targetable oncogenic protein overexpressed in TNBC and associated with metastasis and stem cell expansion. We quantified EZH2 protein expression in TNBC before NAC to examine potential utility as a predictive and prognostic biomarker. Materials and Methods: We retrospectively identified 63 patients with localized TNBC treated with NAC. We quantified EZH2 nuclear expression in pretherapy biopsies using a score which included intensity and percent of positive cells at each intensity. EZH2 expression was evaluated as a continuous variable and dichotomized at a score of 210. Logistic regression analysis was used to determine association between EZH2 expression and RCB, tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes, clinicopathologic features and disease-free survival. Results: There was no significant association between EZH2 score and posttreatment RCB class evaluated as a continuous variable (P=0.831) or dichotomized at 210 (P=0.546). On multivariable logistic regression, adjusted for covariates including RCB, EZH2 >210 was associated with development of metastasis (odds ratio=14.35, 95% confidence interval: 2.69-76.66; P=0.002). Logistic regression was run with EZH2 scores as a continuous variable and increased EZH2 score was associated with metastasis (odds ratio=1.10, 95% confidence interval: 1.00-1.03; P=0.047). Conclusion: In our study of TNBC treated with NAC, high EZH2 expression in pretherapy core biopsies was significantly associated with metastatic recurrence independent of RCB. The potential value of EZH2 as a biomarker to improve stratification of outcome after NAC should be explored further.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalApplied Immunohistochemistry and Molecular Morphology
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2021

Keywords

  • breast cancer
  • EZH2
  • neoadjuvant chemotherapy
  • residual cancer burden
  • triple-negative breast cancer

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Histology
  • Medical Laboratory Technology

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