Considerable heterogeneity exists amongst oestrogen receptor positive (ER+ve) breast cancer in both its molecular profile and response to therapy. Attempts to better define variation amongst breast tumours have led to the definition of four main "intrinsic" subtypes of breast cancer with two of these classes, Luminal A and B, composed almost entirely of ER+ve cancers. In this study we set out to investigate the significance of intrinsic subtypes within a group of ER+ve breast cancers treated with neoadjuvant anastrozole. RNA from tumour biopsies taken from 104 postmenopausal women before and after 2 weeks treatment with anastrozole was analyzed on Illumina 48K microarrays. Gene-expression based subtypes and risk of relapse (ROR) scores for tumours pre- and post-treatment were determined using the PAM50 method. Amongst pre-treatment samples, all intrinsic subtypes were found to be present, although luminal groups were represented most highly. Luminal A and B tumours obtained similar benefit from treatment, as measured by the proportional fall in the proliferation marker Ki67 upon treatment (mean suppression=75.5% vs 75.7%). Tumours classified as basal and Her2-like showed poor reductions in Ki67 upon treatment. Residual Ki67 staining after two weeks remained higher in the Luminal B group. ROR score was significantly associated with anti-proliferative response to AI and with clinical response. These results suggest that in the short-term, Luminal A and B tumours may gain similar benefit from an AI but that the higher residual Ki67 level seen in Luminal B is indicative of poorer long term outcome.
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