Neoadjuvant Chemotherapy Induces the Appearance of New Copy Number Aberrations in Breast Tumor and is Associated with Metastasis

Curr Cancer Drug Targets. 2020;20(9):681-688. doi: 10.2174/1568009620666200506104523.


Background: In this study, we examined the CNA-genetic landscape (CNA - copy number aberration) of breast cancer prior to and following neoadjuvant chemotherapy (NAC) and correlated changes in the tumor landscape with chemotherapy efficiency as well as metastasis-free survival.

Objective: Breast cancer patients (n = 30) with luminal B molecular subtypes were treated with anthracycline- based therapy.

Methods: To study CNAs in breast tumors, microarray analysis was performed.

Results: Three effects of NAC on tumor CNA landscape were identified: 1 - the number of CNAbearing tumor clones decreased following NAC; 2 - there were no alterations in the number of CNAcontaining clones after NAC; 3 - the treatment with NAC increased the number of CNA-bearing clones (new clones appeared). All NAC-treated patients who had new tumor clones with amplification (20%) had a 100% likelihood of metastasis formation. In these cases, NAC contributed to the emergence of potential metastatic clones. Our study identified the following loci - 5p, 6p, 7q, 8q, 9p, 10p, 10q22.1, 13q, 16p, 18Chr and 19p - that were amplified during the treatment with NAC and maybe the markers of potential metastatic clones. In other patients who showed total or partial elimination of CNA-bearing cell clones, no new amplification clones were observed after NAC, and no evidence of metastases was found with follow-up for 5 years (р = 0.00000).

Conclusion: Our data suggest that the main therapeutic result from NAC is the elimination of potential metastatic clones present in the tumor before treatment. The results showed the necessity of an intelligent approach to NAC to avoid metastasis stimulation.

Keywords: CNA-genetic landscape; Clonal evolution; breast cancer; chemotherapy; copy number aberration; metastasis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Anthracyclines / administration & dosage*
  • Antineoplastic Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / administration & dosage*
  • Breast Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Breast Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology
  • DNA Copy Number Variations / drug effects*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Genetic Loci
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoadjuvant Therapy / methods*
  • Neoplasm Metastasis / genetics
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Anthracyclines
  • Antineoplastic Agents