Prognostic implications of the peripheral platelet-to-lymphocyte ratio and neutrophil-to-lymphocyte ratio in predicting pathologic complete response after neoadjuvant chemotherapy in breast cancer patients

Gland Surg. 2022 Jun;11(6):1057-1066. doi: 10.21037/gs-22-244.


Background: The inflammatory response is extremely important in tumor progression, and it is very difficult to identify prognostic indicators for neoadjuvant therapy in breast cancer patients. The aim of this study was to mine the potential prognostic significance of the platelet-to-lymphocyte ratio (PLR) and neutrophil-to-lymphocyte ratio (NLR) in breast cancer patients receiving anthracycline- or taxane-based neoadjuvant chemotherapy (NACT).

Methods: A total of 67 women diagnosed with breast cancer who received neoadjuvant therapy were enrolled in the study. Before starting NACT, the PLR and NLR were calculated. The optimal cutoff value was calculated using receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve analyses, which indicated that 106.3 and 2.464 were the best cutoff values for the PLR and NLR, respectively. The optimal cutoff values for them were used to divide patients into low and high NLR groups and low and high PLR groups. Independent prognostic biomarkers and the value of PLR and NLR were assessed. The connection between the NLR/PLR and pathologic complete response (pCR), together with other clinical/pathological factors was evaluated.

Results: Logistic regression model analyses revealed that patients with a high PLR correlated remarkably with better pCR than those with a low PLR. The results indicated that by using the cutoff value of 106.3, PLR had prognostic significance. However, there was no significant difference in NLR if analyzed separately. By combining PLR and NLR, the NLRhigh and PLRhigh subgroups achieved a significantly higher rate of pCR than the NLRIow/PLRIow subgroup [odds ratio (OR) 0.153, 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.068 to 0.876, P=0.008]. Therefore, the combination of NLRhigh/PLRhigh was an independent prognostic factor different from others, such as PLR, Ki-67, and chemotherapy regimen.

Conclusions: The PLR may serve as a potential marker of the efficacy of neoadjuvant therapy in breast cancer, enabling oncologists to intervene earlier. Peripheral blood NLR and PLR can reflect the immune status of patients. Indicating that an immunogenic phenotype is a good predictor of chemotherapy response and that combined studies can better identify immunophenotypes in patients.

Keywords: Neoadjuvant chemotherapy (NACT); anthracycline- or taxane-based chemotherapy; breast cancer; neutrophil-to-lymphocyte ratio (NLR); platelet-to-lymphocyte ratio (PLR).