Purpose: RACGAP1 is a Rac GTPase-activating protein involved in cell growth regulation, cell transformation and metastasis. The aim of the present study was to explore the prognostic and/or predictive significance of RACGAP1 mRNA expression on disease-free survival (DFS) and overall survival (OS) in high-risk early breast cancer patients and compare it to that of Ki67 protein expression and to the Nottingham prognostic index (NPI).
Methods: A total of 595 high-risk breast cancer patients were treated in a two-arm trial evaluating postoperative dose-dense sequential chemotherapy with epirubicin followed by CMF with or without paclitaxel. RNA was extracted from 314 formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded primary tumor tissue samples followed by one-step quantitative RT-PCR for assessing RACGAP1 mRNA expression.
Results: High RACGAP1 mRNA expression (above the median) was associated with poor DFS (log-rank, p = 0.002) and OS (p < 0.001). High histological grade, as well as high Ki67 protein expression, was more frequent in the high-expression group of RACGAP1. Results of the Cox multivariate regression analysis revealed that high RACGAP1 mRNA expression independently predicted poor overall survival (Wald's p = 0.008). High Ki67 protein expression was also an adverse prognostic factor for death (p = 0.016), while high NPI score values were not.
Conclusions: High RACGAP1 mRNA expression, as assessed by qRT-PCR, was found to be of adverse prognostic significance in high-risk early breast cancer patients treated with dose-dense sequential chemotherapy. The utility of RACGAP1 mRNA expression in patient selection for treatment with aggressive chemotherapy regimens should be further explored and validated in larger cohorts.