ARTICLE ABSTRACTHER3 belongs to a family of receptor tyrosine kinases with oncogenic properties and is targeted by a variety of novel anticancer agents. There is a huge unmet medical need for systemic treatment options in patients with brain metastases (BM). Therefore, we aimed to investigate HER3 expression in BM of breast (BCa) and non–small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) as the basis for future clinical trial design.
We analyzed 180 BM samples of breast cancer or NSCLC and 47 corresponding NSCLC extracranial tissue. IHC was performed to evaluate protein expression of HER3, and immune cells based on CD3, CD8, and CD68. To identify dysregulated pathways based on differential DNA methylation patterns, we used Infinium MethylationEPIC microarrays.
A total of 99/132 (75.0%) of BCa-BM and 35/48 (72.9%) of NSCLC-BM presented with HER3 expression. Among breast cancer, HER2-positive and HER2-low BM showed significantly higher rates of HER3 coexpression than HER2-negative BM (87.1%/85.7% vs. 61.0%, P = 0.004). Among NSCLC, HER3 was more abundantly expressed in BM than in matched extracranial samples (72.9% vs. 41.3%, P = 0.003). No correlation of HER3 expression and intratumoral immune cell density was observed. HER3 expression did not correlate with overall survival from BM diagnosis. Methylation signatures differed according to HER3 status in BCa-BM samples. Pathway analysis revealed subtype-specific differences, such as TrkB and Wnt signaling pathways dysregulated in HER2-positive and triple-negative breast cancer BM, respectively.
HER3 is highly abundant in BM of breast cancer and NSCLC. Given the promising results of antibody–drug conjugates in extracranial disease, BM-specific trials that target HER3 are warranted.