Purpose: Circulating miRNAs can provide valid prognostic and predictive information for breast cancer diagnosis and subsequent management. They may comprise quintessential biomarkers that can be obtained minimally invasively from liquid biopsy in metastatic breast cancer patients. Therefore, they would be clinically crucial for monitoring therapy response, with the goal of detecting early relapse. This study investigated miRNA expression in patients with early and/or late relapse, and the predictive value for assessing overall (OS) and progression-free survival (PFS).
Methods: Forty-seven patients with metastatic breast cancer from the University Women's Hospital Heidelberg were enrolled in this study. Expression of miR-200a, miR-200b, miR-200c, miR-141, and miR-429 was analyzed by RT-qPCR before a new line of systemic therapy and after the first cycle of a respective therapy. Tumor response was assessed every 3 months using the RECIST criteria. Statistical analysis focused on the relation of miR-200s expression and early vs. late cancer relapse in relation to systemic treatment. The association of miRNAs with PFS and OS was investigated.
Results: Before starting a new line of systemic therapy, miR-429 (p = 0.024) expression was significantly higher in patients with early relapse (PFS ≤ 4 months) than in patients with late relapse (PFS > 4 months). After one cycle of systemic therapy, miR-200a (p = 0.039), miR-200b (p = 0.003), miR-141 (p = 0.017), and miR-429 (p = 0.010) expression was higher in early than in late progressive cancer. In addition, 4 out of 5 miR-200 family members (miR-200a, miR-200b, miR-141, and miR-429) predicted PFS (p = 0.048, p = 0.008, p = 0.026, and p = 0.016, respectively). Patients with heightened miRNA levels showed a significant reduction in OS and PFS.
Conclusion: Circulating miR-200s were differentially expressed among patients with late and/or early relapse. 4 of 5 members of the miR-200 family predicted significantly early relapse after systemic treatment. Our results encourage the use of circulating miR-200s as valuable prognostic biomarkers during metastatic breast cancer therapy.
Keywords: Circulating microRNAs; Liquid biopsy; Metastatic breast cancer; Survival; miR-200 family.
© 2022. The Author(s).