Improved Survival of HER2(+) Breast Cancer Patients Treated with Trastuzumab and Chemotherapy Is Associated with Host Antibody Immunity against the HER2 Intracellular Domain CANCER RESEARCH Knutson, K. L., Clynes, R., Shreeder, B., Yeramian, P., Kemp, K. P., Ballman, K., Tenner, K. S., Erskine, C. L., Norton, N., Northfelt, D., Tan, W., Calfa, C., Pegram, M., Mittendorf, E. A., Perez, E. A. 2016; 76 (13): 3702-3710


The addition of trastuzumab to chemotherapy extends survival among patients with HER2(+) breast cancer. Prior work showed that trastuzumab and chemotherapy augments HER2 extracellular domain (ECD)-specific antibodies. The current study investigated whether combination therapy induced immune responses beyond HER2-ECD and, importantly, whether those immune responses were associated with survival. Pretreatment and posttreatment sera were obtained from 48 women with metastatic HER2(+) breast cancer on NCCTG (now Alliance for Clinical Trials in Oncology) studies, N0337 and N983252. IgG to HER2 intracellular domain (ICD), HER2-ECD, p53, IGFBP2, CEA, and tetanus toxoid were examined. Sera from 25 age-matched controls and 26 surgically resected HER2(+) patients were also examined. Prior to therapy, some patients with metastatic disease had elevated antibodies to IGFBP2, p53, HER2-ICD, HER2-ECD, and CEA, but not to tetanus toxin, relative to controls and surgically resected patients. Treatment augmented antibody responses to HER2-ICD in 69% of metastatic patients, which was highly associated with improved progression-free survival (PFS; HR = 0.5, P = 0.0042) and overall survival (OS; HR = 0.7, P = 0.038). Augmented antibody responses to HER2-ICD also correlated (P = 0.03) with increased antibody responses to CEA, IGFBP2, and p53, indicating that treatment induces epitope spreading. Paradoxically, patients who already had high preexisting immunity to HER2-ICD did not respond to therapy with increased antibodies to HER2-ICD and demonstrated poorer PFS (HR = 1.6, P < 0.0001) and OS (HR = 1.4, P = 0.0006). Overall, the findings further demonstrate the importance of the adaptive immune system in the efficacy of trastuzumab-containing regimens. Cancer Res; 76(13); 3702-10. ©2016 AACR.

View details for DOI 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-15-3091

View details for Web of Science ID 000380071400008

View details for PubMedID 27197192