Probabilistic graphical models relate immune status with response to neoadjuvant chemotherapy in breast cancer

Zapater-Moros et al.
ONCOTARGET 12 junio, 2018

Breast cancer is the most frequent tumor in women and its incidence is increasing. Neoadjuvant chemotherapy has become standard of care as a complement to surgery in locally advanced or poor-prognosis early stage disease. The achievement of a complete response to neoadjuvant chemotherapy correlates with prognosis but it is not possible to predict who will obtain an excellent response. The molecular analysis of the tumor offers a unique opportunity to unveil predictive factors. In this work, gene expression profiling in 279 tumor samples from patients receiving neoadjuvant chemotherapy was performed and probabilistic graphical models were used. This approach enables addressing biological and clinical questions from a Systems Biology perspective, allowing to deal with large gene expression data and their interactions. Tumors presenting complete response to neoadjuvant chemotherapy had a higher activity of immune related functions compared to resistant tumors. Similarly, samples from complete responders presented higher expression ​​of lymphocyte cell lineage markers, immune-activating and immune-suppressive markers, which may correlate with tumor infiltration by lymphocytes (TILs). These results suggest that the patient’s immune system plays a key role in tumor response to neoadjuvant treatment. However, future studies with larger cohorts are necessary to validate these hypotheses.

Keywords: Immunology; breast cancer; immune status; molecular subtypes; neoadjuvant chemotherapy; probabilistic graphical models.

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