Evaluation of the Association of Polymorphisms With Palbociclib-Induced Neutropenia: Pharmacogenetic Analysis of PALOMA-2/-3

Oncologist. 2021 Jul;26(7):e1143-e1155. doi: 10.1002/onco.13811. Epub 2021 Jun 7.


Background: The most frequently reported treatment-related adverse event in clinical trials with the cyclin-dependent kinase 4/6 (CDK4/6) inhibitor palbociclib is neutropenia. Allelic variants in ABCB1 and ERCC1 might be associated with early occurrence (i.e., end of week 2 treatment) of grade 3/4 neutropenia. Pharmacogenetic analyses were performed to uncover associations between single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in these genes, patient baseline characteristics, and early occurrence of grade 3/4 neutropenia.

Materials and methods: ABCB1 (rs1045642, rs1128503) and ERCC1 (rs3212986, rs11615) were analyzed in germline DNA from palbociclib-treated patients from PALOMA-2 (n = 584) and PALOMA-3 (n = 442). SNP, race, and cycle 1 day 15 (C1D15) absolute neutrophil count (ANC) data were available for 652 patients. Univariate and multivariable analyses evaluated associations between SNPs, patient baseline characteristics, and early occurrence of grade 3/4 neutropenia. Analyses were stratified by Asian (n = 122) and non-Asian (n = 530) ethnicity. Median progression-free survival (mPFS) was estimated using the Kaplan-Meier method. The effect of genetic variants on palbociclib pharmacokinetics was analyzed.

Results: ABCB1 and ERCC1_rs11615 SNP frequencies differed between Asian and non-Asian patients. Multivariable analysis showed that low baseline ANC was a strong independent risk factor for C1D15 grade 3/4 neutropenia regardless of race (Asians: odds ratio [OR], 6.033, 95% confidence interval [CI], 2.615-13.922, p < .0001; Non-Asians: OR, 6.884, 95% CI, 4.138-11.451, p < .0001). ABCB1_rs1128503 (C/C vs. T/T: OR, 0.57, 95% CI, 0.311-1.047, p = .070) and ERCC1_rs11615 (A/A vs. G/G: OR, 1.75, 95% CI, 0.901-3.397, p = .098) were potential independent risk factors for C1D15 grade 3/4 neutropenia in non-Asian patients. Palbociclib mPFS was consistent across genetic variants; exposure was not associated with ABCB1 genotype.

Conclusion: This is the first comprehensive assessment of pharmacogenetic data in relationship to exposure to a CDK4/6 inhibitor. Pharmacogenetic testing may inform about potentially increased likelihood of patients developing severe neutropenia (NCT01740427, NCT01942135).

Implications for practice: Palbociclib plus endocrine therapy improves hormone receptor-positive/human epidermal growth factor receptor 2-negative advanced breast cancer outcomes, but is commonly associated with neutropenia. Genetic variants in ABCB1 may influence palbociclib exposure, and in ERCC1 are associated with chemotherapy-induced severe neutropenia. Here, the associations of single nucleotide polymorphisms in these genes and baseline characteristics with neutropenia were assessed. Low baseline absolute neutrophil count was a strong risk factor (p < .0001) for grade 3/4 neutropenia. There was a trend indicating that ABCB1_rs1128503 and ERCC1_rs11615 were potential risk factors (p < .10) for grade 3/4 neutropenia in non-Asian patients. Pharmacogenetic testing could inform clinicians about the likelihood of severe neutropenia with palbociclib.

Keywords: HR+/HER2-advanced breast cancer; Neutropenia; Palbociclib; Pharmacogenetics; Polymorphisms.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols
  • Breast Neoplasms* / drug therapy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Neutropenia* / chemically induced
  • Neutropenia* / genetics
  • Pharmacogenomic Testing
  • Piperazines
  • Pyridines
  • Receptor, ErbB-2 / therapeutic use


  • Piperazines
  • Pyridines
  • Receptor, ErbB-2
  • palbociclib

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT01942135
  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT01740427