Predictive and prognostic role of peripheral blood eosinophil count in triple-negative and hormone receptor-negative/HER2-positive breast cancer patients undergoing neoadjuvant treatment

Oncotarget. 2018 Sep 14;9(72):33719-33733. doi: 10.18632/oncotarget.26120.


In current clinical practices, up to 27% of all breast cancer patients receive neoadjuvant chemotherapy. High pathological complete response rate is frequently associated with tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes. Additionally, circulating immune cells are also often linked to chemotherapy response. We performed a retrospective analysis on a cohort of 112 breast cancer patients (79 triple-negative, 33 hormone receptor-negative/HER2-positive) treated with standard neoadjuvant chemotherapy. Eosinophil and lymphocyte counts were collected from whole blood at baseline and during follow-ups and their associations with pathological complete response, relapse, disease-free and breast cancer-specific survival were analyzed. We observed a higher pathological complete response rate in patients who presented at baseline a relative eosinophil count ≥ 1.5% (55.6%) than in those with a relative eosinophil count < 1.5% (36.2%)(p = 0.04). An improvement in breast cancer-specific survival in patients with high relative eosinophil count (p = 0.05; HR = 0.336; 95% CI = 0.107-1.058) or with high relative lymphocyte count (threshold = 17.5%, p = 0.01; HR = 0.217; 95% CI = 0.060-0.783) were also observed. Upon combining the two parameters into the eosinophil x lymphocyte product with a threshold at 35.8, associations with pathological complete response (p = 0.002), relapse (p = 0.028), disease-free survival (p = 0.012) and breast cancer-specific survival (p = 0.001) were also recorded. In conclusion, the relative eosinophil count and eosinophil x lymphocyte product could be promising, affordable and accessible new biomarkers that are predictive for neoadjuvant chemotherapy response and prognostic for longer survival in triple-negative and hormone receptors-negative/HER2-positive breast cancers. Confirmation of these results in a larger patient population is needed.

Keywords: HER2-positive breast cancer; eosinophil; neoadjuvant therapy; pathological complete response; triple-negative breast cancer.