Expression of T-lymphocyte markers in human epidermal growth factor receptor 2-positive breast cancer

Changro Lee, Seho Park, Joo Heung Kim, Sung Mook Lim, Hyung Seok Park, Seung Il Kim, Byeong Woo Park

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: The present study aimed to examine the clinical implications of CD4, CD8, and FOXP3 expression on the prognosis of human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2)-positive breast cancer using a web-based database, and to compare the immunohistochemical expression of T-lymphocyte markers using primary and metastatic HER2-positive tumor tissues before and after HER2-targeted therapy. Methods: Using the cBioPortal for Cancer Genomics and Kaplan-Meier plotter, the mRNA expression, association between T-lymphocyte markers, and survival in HER2-positive cancers were investigated according to various cutoff levels. Immunohistochemistry analysis was performed using paired primary and metastatic tissues of 29 HER2- positive tumors treated with systemic chemotherapy and HER2- directed therapy. Results: HER2 mRNA was mutually exclusive of T-lymphocyte markers, and a significant correlation between T-cell markers was observed in the cBioPortal for Cancer Genomics. According to analysis of the Kaplan-Meier plotter, the impact of T-lymphocyte marker expression on survival was statistically insignificant in clinical HER2-positive tumors, irrespective of the cutoff levels. However, in the intrinsic HER2-positive subtype, the individual analyses of T-cell markers except for FOXP3 and combined analysis showed significantly favorable survival irrespective of cutoff points. Although the small clinical sample size made it difficult to show the statistical relevance of immunohistochemistry findings, good responses to neoadjuvant treatments might be associated with positive expression of combined T-lymphocyte markers, and approximately half of the samples showed discordance of combined markers between baseline and resistant tumors. Conclusion: T-lymphocyte markers could be favorable prognostic factors in HER2-positive breast cancers; however, a consensus on patient section criteria, detection methods, and cutoff value could not be reached. The resistance to HER2-directed therapy might involve different and personalized mechanisms, and further research is required to understand the association between immune function and HER2 expression and to overcome the resistance mechanisms to HER2-targeted therapies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)385-393
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Breast Cancer
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2016 Dec

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by Korea Breast Cancer Foundation (Grant number: 2014-31-0681) and the Ministry of Education of the Republic of Korea and the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF-2015S1A5B8036349).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Korean Breast Cancer Society. All rights reserved.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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