ARTICLE ABSTRACTThe TNT trial (NCT00532727) showed no evidence of carboplatin superiority over docetaxel in metastatic triple-negative breast cancer (mTNBC), but carboplatin benefit was observed in the germline BRCA1/2 mutation subgroup. Broader response-predictive biomarkers are needed. We explored the predictive ability of DNA damage response (DDR) and immune markers.
Tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes were evaluated for 222 of 376 patients. Primary tumors (PT) from 186 TNT participants (13 matched recurrences) were profiled using total RNA sequencing. Four transcriptional DDR-related and 25 immune-related signatures were evaluated. We assessed their association with objective response rate (ORR) and progression-free survival (PFS). Conditional inference forest clustering was applied to integrate multimodal data. The biology of subgroups was characterized by 693 gene expression modules and other markers.
Transcriptional DDR-related biomarkers were not predictive of ORR to either treatment overall. Changes from PT to recurrence were demonstrated; in chemotherapy-naïve patients, transcriptional DDR markers separated carboplatin responders from nonresponders (P values = 0.017; 0.046). High immune infiltration was associated with docetaxel ORR (interaction P values < 0.05). Six subgroups were identified; the immune-enriched cluster had preferential docetaxel response [62.5% (D) vs. 29.4% (C); P = 0.016]. The immune-depleted cluster had preferential carboplatin response [8.0% (D) vs. 40.0% (C); P = 0.011]. DDR-related subgroups were too small to assess ORR.
High immune features predict docetaxel response, and high DDR signature scores predict carboplatin response in treatment-naïve mTNBC. Integrating multimodal DDR and immune-related markers identifies subgroups with differential treatment sensitivity. Treatment options for patients with immune-low and DDR-proficient tumors remains an outstanding need. Caution is needed using PT-derived transcriptional signatures to direct treatment in mTNBC, particularly DDR-related markers following prior chemotherapy.