One of the hallmarks of cancer is sustained angiogenesis. Favorable results have been reported in some breast cancer (BC) patients receiving antiangiogenic therapy with bevacizumab (Bev) in combination with chemotherapy, and further knowledge on how Bev can be optimally combined with conventional treatment to increase efficacy is strongly needed. In this randomized, neoadjuvant phase II clinical trial, 132 patients with HER2-negative, nonmetastatic BC were treated with Bev in combination with sequential chemotherapy. Biopsies were sampled before treatment, after 12 weeks with anthracycline and after taxane therapy at week 25. MicroRNA (miRNA) expression profiling was performed on biopsies from each time point. Altogether, 241 biopsies were analyzed with the aim of identifying miRNA-based biomarkers of response to therapy. Results from the miRNA analyses were reported for the ER-positive cohort, which were previously demonstrated to benefit from antiangiogenic therapy in this study. For both treatment arms of this cohort, significantly different expression was observed for 217 miRNAs between objective responding and nonresponding patients before treatment initiation. These miRNAs have been linked to regulation of epithelial-mesenchymal transition, metastasis, and tumor growth, among other processes. Bev in combination with chemotherapy resulted in similar miRNA changes to chemotherapy alone. However, the deregulation of miRNA expression occurred earlier in the Bev arm. In both arms, tumor suppressor miRNAs were found upregulated after treatment, while oncogenic miRNAs were downregulated in the Bev arm. Patients responding to Bev showed a strong correlation between deregulated miRNAs and decreased proliferation score during the course of treatment, with downregulation of miR-4465 as the strongest indicator of reduced proliferation. Integrative analyses at miRNA-, gene-, and protein expression further indicated a longitudinal decrease in proliferation. Altogether, the results indicate that proliferation might represent a predictive factor for increased Bev sensitivity, which may aid in the identification of patients who could potentially benefit from Bev.
Keywords: angiogenesis; bevacizumab; breast cancer; miRNA; neoadjuvant.
© 2019 The Authors. Published by FEBS Press and John Wiley & Sons Ltd.