Trogocytosis-mediated expression of HER2 on immune cells may be associated with a pathological complete response to trastuzumab-based primary systemic therapy in HER2-overexpressing breast cancer patients
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Background: Trogocytosis is defined as the transfer of cell-surface membrane proteins and membrane patches from one cell to another through contact. It is reported that human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2) could be transferred from cancer cells to monocytes via trogocytosis; however, the clinical significance of this is unknown. The aim of this study is to demonstrate the presence and evaluate the clinical significance of HER2+ tumor-infiltrated immune cells (arising through HER2 trogocytosis) in HER2-overexpressing (HER2+) breast cancer patients receiving trastuzumab-based primary systemic therapy (PST). Methods: To assess the trogocytosis of HER2 from cancer cells to immune cells, and to evaluate the up- and down-regulation of HER2 on immune and cancer cells, peripheral blood mononuclear cells from healthy volunteers and breast cancer patients were co-cultured with HER2+ and HER2-negative breast cancer cell lines with and without trastuzumab, respectively. The correlation between HER2 expression on tumor-infiltrated immune cells and a pathological complete response (pCR) in HER2+ breast cancer patients treated with trastuzumab-based PST was analyzed. Results: HER2 was transferred from HER2+ breast cancer cells to monocytes and natural killer cells by trogocytosis. Trastuzumab-mediated trogocytosed-HER2+ effector cells exhibited greater CD107a expression than non-HER2-trogocytosed effector cells. In breast cancer patients, HER2 expression on tumor-infiltrated immune cells in treatment naïve HER2+ tumors was associated with a pCR to trastuzumab-based PST. Conclusions: HER2-trogocytosis is visible evidence of tumor microenvironment interaction between cancer cells and immune cells. Given that effective contact between these cells is critical for immune destruction of target cancer cells, this interaction is of great significance. It is possible that HER2 trogocytosis could be used as a predictive biomarker for trastuzumab-based PST efficacy in HER2+ breast cancer patients.
- BMC Cancer
BMC Cancer (15), 2015-02-06
BioMed Central Ltd.