Expression of Tumor-Associated Antigens in Breast Cancer Subtypes

Breast. 2020 Feb;49:202-209. doi: 10.1016/j.breast.2019.12.002. Epub 2019 Dec 12.


Objectives: Tumor-associated antigens (TAAs) are frequently overexpressed in several cancer types. The aim of this study was to investigate the expression of TAAs in breast cancer.

Material and methods: A total of 250 selected invasive breast cancers including 50 estrogen receptor (ER)-positive (Luminal B like), 50 triple-negative (TN), 50 ER-positive lobular type, 50 ER- and progesterone receptor (PgR)-positive (Luminal A like) and 50 cerbB2-positive breast cancers, were assessed for New York esophageal squamous cell carcinoma-1 (NY-ESO-1), Wilms tumor antigen (WT-1) and PReferentially expressed Antigen of MElanoma (PRAME) antigen expression by immunohistochemistry (IHC).

Results: A significantly higher expression of cancer testis (CT)-antigens NY-ESO-1 and WT-1 antigen was detected in TN breast cancers compared with ER-positive tumors. NY-ESO-1 overexpression (score 2 + and 3+) assessed by monoclonal and polyclonal antibodies was detected in 9 (18%) TN cancers as compared to 2 (4%) ER-positive tumors (p = 0.002). WT1 over-expression (score 2 + and 3+) was confirmed in 27 (54%) TN tumor samples as compared to 6 (12%) ER-positive (p < 0.0001). PRAME over-expression (score 2 + and 3+) was detected in 8 (16%) HER2 positive tumor samples as compared to no TN and ER-positive cancers (p = 0.0021).

Conclusions: NY-ESO-1 and WT1 antigens are overexpressed in TN breast cancers. Because of the limited therapeutic options for this patient subgroup, CT antigen-based vaccines might prove to be useful for patients with this phenotype of breast cancer.

Keywords: Breast cancer; Cancer testis antigens; Immunotherapy; NY-ESO-1; PRAME; Tumor-associated antigens; WT1.