Introduction: Inflammatory breast cancer (IBC) is an aggressive and rare cancer with a poor prognosis and a need for novel targeted therapeutic strategies. Preclinical IBC data showed strong activation of the phosphatidylinositide-3-kinase/mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) and Janus kinase (JAK)/signal transducer and activator of transcription (STAT) pathways, and expression of inflammatory cytokines and tumor-associated macrophages (TAMs).
Patients and methods: Archival tumor tissue from 3 disease types (IBC treated with neoadjuvant chemotherapy [NAC], n = 45; invasive ductal carcinoma [IDC] treated with NAC [n = 24; 'treated IDC'; and untreated IDC [n = 27; 'untreated IDC']) was analyzed for the expression of biomarkers phospho-S6 (pS6) (mTOR), phospho-JAK2 (pJAK2), pSTAT3, interleukin (IL)-6, CD68 (monocytes, macrophages), and CD163 (TAMs). Surrounding nontumor tissue was also analyzed.
Results: Biomarker levels and surrogate activity according to site-specific phosphorylation were shown in the tumor tissue of all 3 disease types but were greatest in IBC and treated IDC and least in untreated IDC for pS6, pJAK2, pSTAT3, and IL-6. Of 37 IBC patients with complete biomarker data available, 100% were pS6-positive and 95% were pJAK2-positive. In nontumor tissue, biomarker levels were observed in all groups but were generally greatest in untreated IDC and least in IBC, except for JAK2.
Conclusion: IBC and treated IDC display similar levels of mTOR and JAK2 biomarker activation, which suggests a potential mechanism of resistance after NAC. Biomarker levels in surrounding nontumor tissue suggested that the stroma might be activated by chemotherapy and resembles the oncogenic tumor-promoting environment. Activation of pS6 and pJAK2 in IBC might support dual targeting of the mTOR and JAK/STAT pathways, and the need for prospective studies to investigate combined targeted therapies in IBC.
Keywords: Biomarkers; Inflammatory breast cancer; Resistance to chemotherapy; Signaling pathways; Targeted therapies.
Copyright © 2016 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.