Receive a weekly summary and discussion of the top papers of the week by leading researchers in the field.

In Breast cancer research : BCR

BACKGROUND : Metastatic breast cancer (MBC) is a challenging disease, and despite new therapies, prognosis is still poor for a majority of patients. There is a clinical need for improved prognostication where immuno-oncology markers can provide important information. The aim of this study was to evaluate serum immuno-oncology markers in MBC patients and their respective relevance for prediction of survival.

PATIENTS AND METHODS : We investigated a broad panel of 92 immuno-oncology proteins in serum from 136 MBC patients included in a prospective observational study (NCT01322893) with long-term follow-up. Serum samples were collected before start of systemic therapy and analyzed using multiplex proximity extension assay (Olink Target 96 Immuno-Oncology panel). Multiple machine learning techniques were used to identify serum markers with highest importance for prediction of overall and progression-free survival (OS and PFS), and associations to survival were further evaluated using Cox regression analyses. False discovery rate was then used to adjust for multiple comparisons.

RESULTS : Using random forest and random survival forest analyses, we identified the top nine and ten variables of highest predictive importance for OS and PFS, respectively. Cox regression analyses revealed significant associations (P < 0.005) of higher serum levels of IL-8, IL-10 and CAIX with worse OS in multivariable analyses, adjusted for established clinical prognostic factors including circulating tumor cells (CTCs). Similarly, high serum levels of IL-8, IL-10, ADA and CASP8 significantly associated with worse PFS. Interestingly, high serum levels of FasL significantly associated with improved OS and PFS. In addition, CSF-1, IL-6, MUC16, TFNSFR4 and CD244 showed suggestive evidence (P < 0.05) for an association to survival in multivariable analyses. After correction for multiple comparisons, IL-8 still showed strong evidence for correlation to survival.

CONCLUSION : To conclude, we found six serum immuno-oncology markers that were significantly associated with OS and/or PFS in MBC patients, independently of other established prognostic factors including CTCs. Furthermore, an additional five serum immuno-oncology markers provided suggestive evidence for an independent association to survival. These findings highlight the relevance of immuno-oncology serum markers in MBC patients and support their usefulness for improved prognostication. Trial registration Clinical Trials (NCT01322893), registered March 25, 2011.

Gunnarsdottir Frida Björk, Bendahl Pär-Ola, Johansson Alexandra, Benfeitas Rui, Rydén Lisa, Bergenfelz Caroline, Larsson Anna-Maria


Immuno-oncology, Marker, Metastatic breast cancer, Serum, Survival