Background: Src is a non-receptor tyrosine kinase involved in signalling and crosstalk between growth-promoting pathways. We aim to investigate the relationship of active Src in response to trastuzumab of HER2-positive breast carcinomas.
Methods: We selected 278 HER2-positive breast cancer patients with (n=154) and without (n=124) trastuzumab treatment. We performed immunohistochemistry on paraffin-embedded tissue microarrays of active Src and several proteins involved in the PI3K/Akt/mTOR pathway, PIK3CA mutational analysis and in vitro studies (SKBR3 and BT474 cancer cells). The results were correlated with clinicopathological factors and patients' outcome.
Results: Increased pSrc-Y416 was demonstrated in trastuzumab-resistant cells and in 37.8% of tumours that correlated positively with tumour size, necrosis, mitosis, metastasis to the central nervous system, p53 overexpression and MAPK activation but inversely with EGFR and p27. Univariate analyses showed an association of increased active Src with shorter survival in patients at early stage with HER2/hormone receptor-negative tumours treated with trastuzumab.
Conclusions: Src activation participates in trastuzumab mechanisms of resistance and indicates poor prognosis, mainly in HER2/hormone receptor-negative breast cancer. Therefore, blocking this axis may be beneficial in those patients.