Immune Parameters Associated With Survival in Metaplastic Breast Cancer

Xue Chao; Lili Liu; Peng Sun; Xia Yang; Mei Li; Rongzhen Luo; Yuhua Huang; Jiehua He; Jingping Yun


Breast Cancer Res. 2020;22(92) 

In This Article

Abstract and Introduction


Background: Metaplastic breast carcinoma (MBC) is a rare histological type of breast cancer, which commonly shows resistance to standard therapies and is associated with poor prognosis. The immune microenvironment in MBC and its significance has not been well established due to its low incurrence rate and complex components. We aimed to investigate the diversity of immune parameters including subsets of TILs and PDL1/PD1 expression in MBC, as well as its correlation with prognosis.

Methods: A total of 60 patients diagnosed with MBC from January 2006 to December 2017 were included in our study. The percentage (%) and quantification (per mm2) of TILs and presence of tertiary lymphoid structures (TLS) were evaluated by hematoxylin and eosin staining (HE). The quantification of CD4+, CD8+ TILs (per mm2), and PD-1/PDL1 expression were evaluated through immunohistochemistry and analyzed in relation to clinicopathological characteristics. A ≥ 1% membranous or cytoplasmatic expression of PD1 and PDL1 was considered a positive expression.

Results: We found squamous cell carcinoma MBC (33/60, 55%) exhibiting most TILs of all the MBC subtypes (p = 0.043). Thirty-three of 60 (50%) of the patients had coexisting invasive ductal carcinoma of no special type (IDC-NST), and the average percentage of TILs in MBC components was lower compared with NST components (p < 0.001). Thirty (50%) patients exhibited positive (≥ 1%) PDL1 expression in their tumor cells, while 36 (60%) had positive (≥ 1%) PDL1 expression in their TILs. Twenty-seven (45%) of all the patients had positive (≥ 1%) PD1 expression in their tumor cells and 33 (55%) had PD1-positive (≥ 1%) stromal TILs. More CD8+ TILs were associated with positive PDL1 expression of tumor cells as well as positive PD1 expression in stromal cells. Greater number of stromal TILS (> 300/mm2, 20%), CD4+ TILs (> 250/mm2), and CD8+ TILs (> 70/mm2) in MBC were found associated with longer disease-free survival. Positive expression of PDL1 in tumor cells (≥ 1%) and PD1 in stromal cells (≥ 1%) were also associated with longer survival.

Conclusions: The immune characteristics differ in various subtypes as well as components of MBC. Immune parameters are key predictive factors of MBC and provide the clinical significance of applying immune checkpoint therapies in patients with MBC.