Oncogene addiction and immunity: clinical implications of tumour infiltrating lymphocytes in breast cancers overexpressing the HER2/neu oncogene

Curr Opin Oncol. 2014 Nov;26(6):562-7. doi: 10.1097/CCO.0000000000000131.


Purpose of review: To review the evidence that correlates tumour infiltrating lymphocytes, a surrogate biomarker of pre-existing host antitumour immunity, and survival in HER2-overexpressing breast cancers. This is of particular relevance to developing immune biomarkers and harnessing new immunotherapeutics in this breast cancer subtype.

Recent findings: Oncogene addiction, in which cancer cells become reliant on a single oncogenic pathway for tumour growth and progression, has traditionally been thought of as a cell intrinsic characteristic. However, increasing evidence from multiple studies exploring the relationship between markers of an antitumour immune response and clinical outcome in HER2-overexpressing breast cancer points to the importance of a permissive microenvironment in oncogene-addicted tumours.

Summary: Characterizing the immune microenvironment in HER2-overexpressing breast cancer has the potential to furnish predictive and prognostic biomarkers that may be useful in routine clinical decision-making. The host-tumour immune interface is emerging as a key aspect of breast cancer biology that is likely to yield novel therapies in the near future.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Breast Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Breast Neoplasms / immunology*
  • Breast Neoplasms / mortality
  • Female
  • Genes, erbB-2 / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Lymphocytes, Tumor-Infiltrating / immunology*
  • Prognosis