Background: E75, a HER2/neu immunogenic peptide, is expressed in breast cancer (BCa). We have performed clinical trials of E75 + GM-CSF vaccine in disease-free, node-positive and node-negative BCa patients at high recurrence risk and recurrences were noted in both control and vaccine groups.
Methods: Among the 186 BCa patients enrolled, 177 completed the study. Patients were HLA typed; the HLA-A2(+)/A3(+) patients were vaccinated; HLA-A2(-)/A3(-) patients were followed as controls. Standard clinicopathological factors, immunologic response to the vaccine, and recurrences were collected and assessed.
Results: The control group recurrence rate was 14.8 and 8.3% in the vaccinated group (P = 0.17). Comparing the 8 vaccinated recurrences (V-R) to the 88 vaccinated nonrecurrent patients (V-NR), the V-R group had higher nodal stage (> or = N2: 75 vs. 5%, P = 0.0001) and higher grade tumors (%grade 3: 88 vs. 31%, P = 0.003). The V-R group did not fail to respond immunologically as noted by equivalent dimer responses and post-DTH responses. Compared to control recurrent patients (C-R), V-R patients trended toward higher-grade tumors and hormone-receptor negativity. C-R patients had 50% bone-only recurrences, compared to V-R patients with no bone-only recurrences (P = 0.05). Lastly, V-R mortality rate was 12.5% compared with 41.7% for the C-R group (P = 0.3).
Conclusions: The vaccinated patients who recurred had more aggressive disease compared to V-NR patients. V-R patients had no difference in immune response to the vaccine either in vitro or in vivo. V-R patients, when compared to C-R patients, trended towards more aggressive disease, decreased recurrence rates, decreased mortality, and no bone-only recurrences.