Publications by authors named "Giuseppe Floris"

94 Publications

Papillary lesions of the breast.

Virchows Arch 2021 Nov 3. Epub 2021 Nov 3.

Department of Pathology, Hospital Graz II, Graz, Austria.

Papillary lesions of the breast represent a heterogeneous group of lesions including benign papillomas, papillomas with focal epithelial atypia, fully fledged ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) or lobular neoplasia, papillary DCIS, encapsulated papillary carcinomas without or with invasion, solid papillary carcinomas, and invasive papillary carcinomas. A micropapillary pattern characterized by lack of fibrous stalks within the papillae is observed in micropapillary DCIS and invasive micropapillary carcinoma. In addition, a variety of other rare breast lesions reveals a papillary architecture such as tall cell carcinoma with reversed polarity (TCCRP) and mucinous cystadenocarcinoma, adenomyoepithelioma, and secretory carcinoma. In addition, benign lesions such as usual ductal hyperplasia, apocrine metaplasia, gynecomastia, and juvenile papillomatosis may show a papillary or micropapillary architecture. Fragments of a benign papilloma in a breast biopsy are considered a lesion of uncertain malignant potential (B3 in the European classification) and excision is mostly recommended. Although the knowledge about molecular pathology of papillary breast lesions has increased, there is not sufficient evidence for diagnostically useful molecular features, yet. The aim of this review is to provide an update on papillary and micropapillary lesions with emphasis on problematic areas for daily diagnostic work including biopsies.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00428-021-03182-7DOI Listing
November 2021

Interobserver Agreement of PD-L1/SP142 Immunohistochemistry and Tumor-Infiltrating Lymphocytes (TILs) in Distant Metastases of Triple-Negative Breast Cancer: A Proof-of-Concept Study. A Report on Behalf of the International Immuno-Oncology Biomarker Working Group.

Cancers (Basel) 2021 Sep 29;13(19). Epub 2021 Sep 29.

Department of Biostatistics and Epidemiology, Gustave Roussy, University Paris-Saclay, 94805 Villejuif, France.

Patients with advanced triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) benefit from treatment with atezolizumab, provided that the tumor contains ≥1% of PD-L1/SP142-positive immune cells. Numbers of tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes (TILs) vary strongly according to the anatomic localization of TNBC metastases. We investigated inter-pathologist agreement in the assessment of PD-L1/SP142 immunohistochemistry and TILs. Ten pathologists evaluated PD-L1/SP142 expression in a proficiency test comprising 28 primary TNBCs, as well as PD-L1/SP142 expression and levels of TILs in 49 distant TNBC metastases with various localizations. Interobserver agreement for PD-L1 status (positive vs. negative) was high in the proficiency test: the corresponding scores as percentages showed good agreement with the consensus diagnosis. In TNBC metastases, there was substantial variability in PD-L1 status at the individual patient level. For one in five patients, the chance of treatment was essentially random, with half of the pathologists designating them as positive and half negative. Assessment of PD-L1/SP142 and TILs as percentages in TNBC metastases showed poor and moderate agreement, respectively. Additional training for metastatic TNBC is required to enhance interobserver agreement. Such training, focusing on metastatic specimens, seems worthwhile, since the same pathologists obtained high percentages of concordance (ranging from 93% to 100%) on the PD-L1 status of primary TNBCs.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/cancers13194910DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8507620PMC
September 2021

Data describing the poor outcome associated with a breast cancer diagnosis in the post-weaning period.

Data Brief 2021 Oct 10;38:107354. Epub 2021 Sep 10.

Department of Oncology, Laboratory of Gynecological Oncology, KU Leuven, Leuven, Belgium.

Postpartum breast cancer (PPBC) - which according to new data, can extend to 5-10 years after the birth - are estimated to represent 35-55% of all cases of breast cancer in women younger than 45 years. Increasing clinical evidence indicates that PPBC represents a high-risk form of breast cancer in young women with an approximately 2-fold increased risk for metastasis and death. Yet, the exact mechanisms that underlay this poor prognosis are incompletely understood and, hence, it is unknown why postpartum breast cancer has an enhanced risk for metastasis or how it should be effectively targeted for improved survival. This article is an accompanying resource of the original article entitled "Breast cancer diagnosed in the post-weaning period is indicative for a poor outcome" and present epidemiological data that compare standard prognostic parameters, first site of metastatic disease and survival and metastatic rates in young women with primary invasive breast cancer diagnosed within two years postpartum (PP-BC), in young women diagnosed during pregnancy (Pr-BC) and nulliparous women (NP-BC). Via an international collaboration of 13 centres participating in the International Network on Cancer, Infertility and Pregnancy (INCIP), retrospective data of 1180 patients with primary invasive breast cancer, aged 25-40 years and diagnosed between January 1995 and December 2017 were collected. In particular, tumour-, patient, and therapy-related characteristics were collected. Furthermore, patient files were reviewed thoroughly to assess, for each parity, if and for how long breastfeeding was given. For PP-BC patients, breastfeeding history was used to differentiate breast cancers identified during lactation (PP-BC) from those diagnosed post-weaning (PP-BC). Primary exposures were prior childbirth or no childbirth, time between most recent childbirth and breast cancer diagnosis, time between cessation of lactation and breast cancer diagnosis and time between breast cancer diagnosis and metastasis or death. Distribution of standard prognostic parameters and first site of distant metastasis among study groups was determined applying fisher's exact, chi-squared, One-Way ANOVA or Kruskal-Wallis tests or logistic regression models, where applicable. The risks for metastasis and death were assessed using Cox proportional hazards models. A subgroup analysis was performed in PP-BC patients that never lactated (PP-BC), lactated ≤3 months (PP-BC) or lactated >3 months (PP-BC).
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.dib.2021.107354DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8446787PMC
October 2021

Comparison of the tumor immune microenvironment of primary hormone receptor-negative HER2-positive and triple negative breast cancer.

NPJ Breast Cancer 2021 Sep 23;7(1):128. Epub 2021 Sep 23.

Department of Surgical Oncology, University Hospitals Leuven; Department of Oncology, KU Leuven, Leuven, Belgium.

The vast majority of studies investigating immune checkpoint inhibition (ICI) in patients with breast cancer have focused on triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC). In this study, we compared the tumor immune microenvironment (TIME) between TNBC and hormone receptor-negative HER2-positive breast cancer based on a selection of immune markers at the protein level in an institutional retrospective series. Additionally, we performed a similar comparison using publicly available transcriptomics data. Altogether, the results show a comparable TIME in both groups, with possible implications for the use of ICI in patients with hormone receptor-negative HER2-positive breast tumors.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41523-021-00332-7DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8460670PMC
September 2021

Intra-Tumour Heterogeneity Is One of the Main Sources of Inter-Observer Variation in Scoring Stromal Tumour Infiltrating Lymphocytes in Triple Negative Breast Cancer.

Cancers (Basel) 2021 Aug 31;13(17). Epub 2021 Aug 31.

Discipline of Pathology, Lambe Institute for Translational Research, School of Medicine, National University of Ireland Galway, H91 TK33 Galway, Ireland.

Stromal tumour infiltrating lymphocytes (sTILs) are a strong prognostic marker in triple negative breast cancer (TNBC). Consistency scoring sTILs is good and was excellent when an internet-based scoring aid developed by the TIL-WG was used to score cases in a reproducibility study. This study aimed to evaluate the reproducibility of sTILs assessment using this scoring aid in cases from routine practice and to explore the potential of the tool to overcome variability in scoring. Twenty-three breast pathologists scored sTILs in digitized slides of 49 TNBC biopsies using the scoring aid. Subsequently, fields of view (FOV) from each case were selected by one pathologist and scored by the group using the tool. Inter-observer agreement was good for absolute sTILs (ICC 0.634, 95% CI 0.539-0.735, < 0.001) but was poor to fair using binary cutpoints. sTILs heterogeneity was the main contributor to disagreement. When pathologists scored the same FOV from each case, inter-observer agreement was excellent for absolute sTILs (ICC 0.798, 95% CI 0.727-0.864, < 0.001) and good for the 20% (ICC 0.657, 95% CI 0.561-0.756, < 0.001) and 40% (ICC 0.644, 95% CI 0.546-0.745, < 0.001) cutpoints. However, there was a wide range of scores for many cases. Reproducibility scoring sTILs is good when the scoring aid is used. Heterogeneity is the main contributor to variance and will need to be overcome for analytic validity to be achieved.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/cancers13174410DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8431498PMC
August 2021

Lobular Breast Cancer: Histomorphology and Different Concepts of a Special Spectrum of Tumors.

Cancers (Basel) 2021 Jul 22;13(15). Epub 2021 Jul 22.

Department of Diagnostic and Theranostic Medicine, Department of Pathology, Institute Curie, PSL-Research University, 26 rue d'Ulm, 75005 Paris, France.

Invasive lobular breast cancer (ILC) is the most common special histological type of breast cancer (BC). This review recapitulates developments in the histomorphologic assessment of ILC from its beginnings with the seminal work of Foote and Stewart, which was published in 1941, until today. We discuss different concepts of ILC and their implications. These concepts include (i) BC arising from mammary lobules, (ii) BC growing in dissociated cells and single files, and (iii) BC defined as a morpho-molecular spectrum of tumors with distinct histological and molecular characteristics related to impaired cell adhesion. This review also provides a comprehensive overview of ILC variants, their histomorphology, and differential diagnosis. Furthermore, this review highlights recent advances which have contributed to a better understanding of the histomorphology of ILC, such as the role of the basal lamina component laminin, the molecular specificities of triple-negative ILC, and E-cadherin to P-cadherin expression switching as the molecular determinant of tubular elements in -deficient ILC. Last but not least, we provide a detailed account of the tumor microenvironment in ILC, including tumor infiltrating lymphocyte (TIL) levels, which are comparatively low in ILC compared to other BCs, but correlate with clinical outcome. The distinct histomorphology of ILC clearly reflects a special tumor biology. In the clinic, special treatment strategies have been established for triple-negative, HER2-positive, and ER-positive BC. Treatment specialization for patients diagnosed with ILC is just in its beginnings. Accordingly, ILC deserves greater attention as a special tumor entity in BC diagnostics, patient care, and cancer research.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/cancers13153695DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8345067PMC
July 2021

Breast cancer diagnosed in the post-weaning period is indicative for a poor outcome.

Eur J Cancer 2021 09 27;155:13-24. Epub 2021 Jul 27.

Department of Oncology, Laboratory of Gynecological Oncology, KU Leuven, Leuven, Belgium; Department of Gynecology, The Netherlands Cancer Institute - Antoni van Leeuwenhoek Hospital, Amsterdam, the Netherlands; Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics, University Hospitals Leuven, Leuven, Belgium; Department of Gynecological Oncology, Amsterdam University Medical Centers, Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Electronic address:

Background: In young women, a breast cancer diagnosis after childbirth increases the risk for metastasis and death. Studies in rodents suggest that post-weaning mammary gland involution contributes to the poor prognosis of postpartum breast cancers. However, this association has not been investigated in humans, mainly because of missing information on the patient's lactation status at diagnosis.

Patients And Methods: Clinicopathological data of 1180 young women with primary invasive breast cancer, diagnosed within 2 years postpartum (PP-BC), during pregnancy (Pr-BC), or nulliparous (NP-BC), were collected. For PP-BC patients, breastfeeding history was retrieved to differentiate breast cancers identified during lactation (PP-BC) from those diagnosed post-weaning (PP-BC). Differences in prognostic parameters, first site of distant metastasis, and risks for metastasis and death were determined between patient groups.

Results: Cox proportional hazard models pointed to a twofold increased the risk of metastasis and death in PP-BC patients compared with PP-BC (hazard ratio [HR] 2.1 [P = 0.021] and 2.9 [P = 0.004]), Pr-BC (HR 2.1 [P<0.001] and 2.3 [P<0.001]) and NP-BC (HR 2.1 [P<0.001] and 2.0 [P<0.001]) patients. Prognosis was poorest for PP-BC patients who did not breastfeed or only for ≤ 3 months before diagnosis. This could not fully be attributed to differences in standard prognostic characteristics. In addition, PP-BC tumours showed a 3- to 8-fold increased risk to metastasise to the liver, yet this did not correlate with the poor outcome of this patient cohort.

Conclusions: Breast cancer diagnosed shortly after weaning specifically adds to the poor prognosis in women diagnosed with PP-BC. Apart from the importance of an increased awareness, these data show that detailed lactation data need to be registered when breast cancer outcome in young women is investigated.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ejca.2021.06.009DOI Listing
September 2021

Interobserver variability in the assessment of stromal tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes (sTILs) in triple-negative invasive breast carcinoma influences the association with pathological complete response: the IVITA study.

Mod Pathol 2021 Dec 3;34(12):2130-2140. Epub 2021 Jul 3.

Department of Pathology, Onze-Lieve-Vrouwziekenhuis Aalst, Aalst, Belgium.

High stromal tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes (sTILs) in triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) are associated with pathological complete response (pCR) after neoadjuvant chemotherapy (NAC). Histopathological assessment of sTILs in TNBC biopsies is characterized by substantial interobserver variability, but it is unknown whether this affects its association with pCR. Here, we aimed to investigate the degree of interobserver variability in an international study, and its impact on the relationship between sTILs and pCR. Forty pathologists assessed sTILs as a percentage in digitalized biopsy slides, originating from 41 TNBC patients who were treated with NAC followed by surgery. Pathological response was quantified by the MD Anderson Residual Cancer Burden (RCB) score. Intraclass correlation coefficients (ICCs) were calculated per pathologist duo and Bland-Altman plots were constructed. The relation between sTILs and pCR or RCB class was investigated. The ICCs ranged from -0.376 to 0.947 (mean: 0.659), indicating substantial interobserver variability. Nevertheless, high sTILs scores were significantly associated with pCR for 36 participants (90%), and with RCB class for eight participants (20%). Post hoc sTILs cutoffs at 20% and 40% resulted in variable associations with pCR. The sTILs in TNBC with RCB-II and RCB-III were intermediate to those of RCB-0 and RCB-I, with lowest sTILs observed in RCB-I. However, the limited number of RCB-I cases precludes any definite conclusions due to lack of power, and this observation therefore requires further investigation. In conclusion, sTILs are a robust marker for pCR at the group level. However, if sTILs are to be used to guide the NAC scheme for individual patients, the observed interobserver variability might substantially affect the chance of obtaining a pCR. Future studies should determine the 'ideal' sTILs threshold, and attempt to fine-tune the patient selection for sTILs-based de-escalation of NAC regimens. At present, there is insufficient evidence for robust and reproducible sTILs-guided therapeutic decisions.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41379-021-00865-zDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8595512PMC
December 2021

Blood Immunosenescence Signatures Reflecting Age, Frailty and Tumor Immune Infiltrate in Patients with Early Luminal Breast Cancer.

Cancers (Basel) 2021 May 2;13(9). Epub 2021 May 2.

Laboratory of Experimental Oncology, Department of Oncology, KU Leuven, 3000 Leuven, Belgium.

Background: Immune/senescence-related host factors play a pivotal role in numerous biological and pathological process like aging, frailty and cancer. The assessment of these host factors via robust, non-invasive, and easy-to-measure blood biomarkers could improve insights in these processes. Here, we investigated in a series of breast cancer patients in which way single circulating biomarkers or biomarker panels relate to chronological age, frailty status, and tumor-associated inflammatory microenvironment.

Methods: An extensive panel of blood immune/senescence markers and the tumor immune infiltrate was studied in young, middle-aged, and old patients with an early invasive hormone-sensitive, HER2-negative breast cancer. In the old group, clinical frailty was estimated via the G8-scores.

Results: Several three-blood biomarker panels proved to be able to separate old chronological age from young age very efficiently. Clinically more important, several three-blood biomarker panels were strongly associated with clinical frailty. Performance of blood biomarker panels for prediction of the tumor immune infiltrate was lower.

Conclusion: Immune/senescence blood biomarker panels strongly correlate with chronological age, and clinically more importantly with frailty status in early breast cancer patients. They require further investigation on their ability to provide a more complete picture on clinical frailty status and direct personalized therapy in older persons.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/cancers13092185DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8125302PMC
May 2021

Comprehensive genome-wide analysis of routine non-invasive test data allows cancer prediction: A single-center retrospective analysis of over 85,000 pregnancies.

EClinicalMedicine 2021 May 13;35:100856. Epub 2021 May 13.

Department of Oncology, KU Leuven, Herestraat 49, Leuven, Belgium.

Background: Implausible false positive results in non-invasive prenatal testing (NIPT) have been occasionally associated with the detection of occult maternal malignancies. Hence, there is a need for approaches allowing accurate prediction of whether the NIPT result is pointing to an underlying malignancy, as well as for organized programs ensuring efficient downstream clinical management of these cases.

Methods: Using a data set of 88,294 NIPT performed at University Hospital Leuven (Belgium) between November 2013 and March 2020, we retrospectively evaluated the positive predictive value (PPV) of our NIPT approach for cancer detection. In this approach, whole-genome cell-free DNA (cfDNA) data from NIPT were scrutinized for the presence of (sub)chromosomal copy number alterations (CNAs) predictive for a malignancy, using an unbiased NIPT analysis pipeline coined GIPSeq. For suspected cases, the presence of a maternal cancer was evaluated via subsequent multidisciplinary clinical follow-up examinations. The cancer-specificity of the identified CNAs in cfDNA was assessed through genetic analyses of a tumor biopsy.

Findings: Fifteen women without a cancer history were identified with a GIPSeq result suggestive of a malignant process. Their cfDNA profiles showed either genome-wide aberrations or a single trisomy 8. Upon clinical examinations, a solid or hematological cancer was identified in 4 and 7 cases, respectively. Three women were identified as having a clonal mosaicism. For one case no underlying condition was found. These numbers add to a PPV of 73%. Based on this experience, we presented a multidisciplinary care path for efficient clinical management of these cases.

Interpretation: The presented approach for analysing NIPT results has a high PPV, yet unknown sensitivity, for detecting asymptomatic malignancies upon routine NIPT. Given the complexity of diagnosing a pregnant woman with cancer, clinical follow-up should occur in a well-designed multidisciplinary setting, such as via the care model that we presented here.

Funding: This work was supported by Research Foundation Flanders and KU Leuven funding.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.eclinm.2021.100856DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8138727PMC
May 2021

The MNK1/2-eIF4E Axis Supports Immune Suppression and Metastasis in Postpartum Breast Cancer.

Cancer Res 2021 Jul 11;81(14):3876-3889. Epub 2021 May 11.

Department of Physiology, Faculty of Medicine, McGill University, Montréal, Québec, Canada.

Breast cancer diagnosed within 10 years following childbirth is defined as postpartum breast cancer (PPBC) and is highly metastatic. Interactions between immune cells and other stromal cells within the involuting mammary gland are fundamental in facilitating an aggressive tumor phenotype. The MNK1/2-eIF4E axis promotes translation of prometastatic mRNAs in tumor cells, but its role in modulating the function of nontumor cells in the PPBC microenvironment has not been explored. Here, we used a combination of PPBC models and assays to study the effects of inactivation of the MNK1/2-eIF4E axis on the protumor function of select cells of the tumor microenvironment. PPBC mice deficient for phospho-eIF4E (eIF4E) were protected against lung metastasis and exhibited differences in the tumor and lung immune microenvironment compared with wild-type mice. Moreover, the expression of fibroblast-derived IL33, an alarmin known to induce invasion, was repressed upon MNK1/2-eIF4E axis inhibition. Imaging mass cytometry on PPBC and non-PPBC patient samples indicated that human PPBC contains phospho-eIF4E high-expressing tumor cells and CD8 T cells displaying markers of an activated dysfunctional phenotype. Finally, inhibition of MNK1/2 combined with anti-PD-1 therapy blocked lung metastasis of PPBC. These findings implicate the involvement of the MNK1/2-eIF4E axis during PPBC metastasis and suggest a promising immunomodulatory route to enhance the efficacy of immunotherapy by blocking phospho-eIF4E. SIGNIFICANCE: This study investigates the MNK1/2-eIF4E signaling axis in tumor and stromal cells in metastatic breast cancer and reveals that MNK1/2 inhibition suppresses metastasis and sensitizes tumors to anti-PD-1 immunotherapy.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-20-3143DOI Listing
July 2021

A single-cell map of intratumoral changes during anti-PD1 treatment of patients with breast cancer.

Nat Med 2021 05 6;27(5):820-832. Epub 2021 May 6.

Laboratory for Translational Genetics, Department of Human Genetics, KU Leuven, Leuven, Belgium.

Immune-checkpoint blockade (ICB) combined with neoadjuvant chemotherapy improves pathological complete response in breast cancer. To understand why only a subset of tumors respond to ICB, patients with hormone receptor-positive or triple-negative breast cancer were treated with anti-PD1 before surgery. Paired pre- versus on-treatment biopsies from treatment-naive patients receiving anti-PD1 (n = 29) or patients receiving neoadjuvant chemotherapy before anti-PD1 (n = 11) were subjected to single-cell transcriptome, T cell receptor and proteome profiling. One-third of tumors contained PD1-expressing T cells, which clonally expanded upon anti-PD1 treatment, irrespective of tumor subtype. Expansion mainly involved CD8 T cells with pronounced expression of cytotoxic-activity (PRF1, GZMB), immune-cell homing (CXCL13) and exhaustion markers (HAVCR2, LAG3), and CD4 T cells characterized by expression of T-helper-1 (IFNG) and follicular-helper (BCL6, CXCR5) markers. In pre-treatment biopsies, the relative frequency of immunoregulatory dendritic cells (PD-L1), specific macrophage phenotypes (CCR2 or MMP9) and cancer cells exhibiting major histocompatibility complex class I/II expression correlated positively with T cell expansion. Conversely, undifferentiated pre-effector/memory T cells (TCF7, GZMK) or inhibitory macrophages (CX3CR1, C3) were inversely correlated with T cell expansion. Collectively, our data identify various immunophenotypes and associated gene sets that are positively or negatively correlated with T cell expansion following anti-PD1 treatment. We shed light on the heterogeneity in treatment response to anti-PD1 in breast cancer.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41591-021-01323-8DOI Listing
May 2021

Cancer and Aging: Two Tightly Interconnected Biological Processes.

Cancers (Basel) 2021 Mar 19;13(6). Epub 2021 Mar 19.

Laboratory of Experimental Oncology, Department of Oncology, KU Leuven, 3000 Leuven, Belgium.

Age is one of the main risk factors of cancer; several biological changes linked with the aging process can explain this. As our population is progressively aging, the proportion of older patients with cancer is increasing significantly. Due to the heterogeneity of general health and functional status amongst older persons, treatment of cancer is a major challenge in this vulnerable population. Older patients often experience more side effects of anticancer treatments. Over-treatment should be avoided to ensure an optimal quality of life. On the other hand, under-treatment due to fear of toxicity is a frequent problem and can lead to an increased risk of relapse and worse survival. There is a delicate balance between benefits of therapy and risk of toxicity. Robust biomarkers that reflect the body's biological age may aid in outlining optimal individual treatment regimens for older patients with cancer. In particular, the impact of age on systemic immunity and the tumor immune infiltrate should be considered, given the expanding role of immunotherapy in cancer treatment. In this review, we summarize current knowledge concerning the mechanistic connections between aging and cancer, as well as aging biomarkers that could be helpful in the field of geriatric oncology.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/cancers13061400DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8003441PMC
March 2021

Concordance between results of inexpensive statistical models and multigene signatures in patients with ER+/HER2- early breast cancer.

Mod Pathol 2021 07 8;34(7):1297-1309. Epub 2021 Feb 8.

Department of Imaging and Pathology, KU Leuven, Leuven, Belgium.

Multigene signatures (MGS) are used to guide adjuvant chemotherapy (aCT) decisions in patients diagnosed with estrogen receptor (ER)-positive HER2-negative early breast cancer. We used results from three MGS (Oncotype DX® (ODX), MammaPrint® (MP) or Prosigna®) and assessed the concordance between high or low risk of recurrence and the predicted risk of recurrence based on statistical models. In addition, we looked at the impact of MGS results on final aCT administration during the multidisciplinary meeting (MDM). We retrospectively included 129 patients with ER-positive HER2-negative early breast cancer for which MGS testing was performed after MDM at University Hospitals Leuven between May 2013 and April 2019 in case there was doubt about aCT recommendation. Tumor tissue was analyzed either by ODX (N = 44), MP (N = 28), or Prosigna® (N = 57). Eight statistical models were computed: Magee equations (ME), Memorial Sloan Kettering simplified risk score (MSK-SRS), Breast Cancer Recurrence Score Estimator (BCRSE), OncotypeDXCalculator (ODXC), new Adjuvant! Online (nAOL), Mymammaprint.com (MyMP), PREDICT, and SiNK. Concordance, negative percent agreement, and positive percent agreement were calculated. Of 129 cases, 53% were MGS low and 47% MGS high risk. Concordances of 100.0% were observed between risk results obtained by ODX and ME. For MP, BCRSE demonstrated the best concordance, and for Prosigna® the average of ME. Concordances of <50.0% were observed between risk results obtained by ODX and nAOL, ODX and MyMP, ODX and SiNK, MP and MSK-SRS, MP and nAOL, MP and MyMP, MP and SiNK, and Prosigna® and ODXC. Integration of MGS results during MDM resulted in change of aCT recommendation in 47% of patients and a 15% relative and 9% absolute reduction. In conclusion, statistical models, especially ME and BCRSE, can be useful in selecting ER-positive HER2-negative early breast cancer patients who may need MGS testing resulting in enhanced cost-effectiveness and reduced delay in therapeutic decision-making.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41379-021-00743-8DOI Listing
July 2021

The mitotic checkpoint is a targetable vulnerability of carboplatin-resistant triple negative breast cancers.

Sci Rep 2021 02 4;11(1):3176. Epub 2021 Feb 4.

Department of Oncology, KU Leuven and Leuven Cancer Institute (LKI), 3000, Leuven, Belgium.

Triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) is the most aggressive breast cancer subtype, lacking effective therapy. Many TNBCs show remarkable response to carboplatin-based chemotherapy, but often develop resistance over time. With increasing use of carboplatin in the clinic, there is a pressing need to identify vulnerabilities of carboplatin-resistant tumors. In this study, we generated carboplatin-resistant TNBC MDA-MB-468 cell line and patient derived TNBC xenograft models. Mass spectrometry-based proteome profiling demonstrated that carboplatin resistance in TNBC is linked to drastic metabolism rewiring and upregulation of anti-oxidative response that supports cell replication by maintaining low levels of DNA damage in the presence of carboplatin. Carboplatin-resistant cells also exhibited dysregulation of the mitotic checkpoint. A kinome shRNA screen revealed that carboplatin-resistant cells are vulnerable to the depletion of the mitotic checkpoint regulators, whereas the checkpoint kinases CHEK1 and WEE1 are indispensable for the survival of carboplatin-resistant cells in the presence of carboplatin. We confirmed that pharmacological inhibition of CHEK1 by prexasertib in the presence of carboplatin is well tolerated by mice and suppresses the growth of carboplatin-resistant TNBC xenografts. Thus, abrogation of the mitotic checkpoint by CHEK1 inhibition re-sensitizes carboplatin-resistant TNBCs to carboplatin and represents a potential strategy for the treatment of carboplatin-resistant TNBCs.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-021-82780-6DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7862668PMC
February 2021

CYP3A7*1C allele: linking premenopausal oestrone and progesterone levels with risk of hormone receptor-positive breast cancers.

Br J Cancer 2021 02 26;124(4):842-854. Epub 2021 Jan 26.

Molecular Epidemiology Group, C080, German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ), Heidelberg, Germany.

Background: Epidemiological studies provide strong evidence for a role of endogenous sex hormones in the aetiology of breast cancer. The aim of this analysis was to identify genetic variants that are associated with urinary sex-hormone levels and breast cancer risk.

Methods: We carried out a genome-wide association study of urinary oestrone-3-glucuronide and pregnanediol-3-glucuronide levels in 560 premenopausal women, with additional analysis of progesterone levels in 298 premenopausal women. To test for the association with breast cancer risk, we carried out follow-up genotyping in 90,916 cases and 89,893 controls from the Breast Cancer Association Consortium. All women were of European ancestry.

Results: For pregnanediol-3-glucuronide, there were no genome-wide significant associations; for oestrone-3-glucuronide, we identified a single peak mapping to the CYP3A locus, annotated by rs45446698. The minor rs45446698-C allele was associated with lower oestrone-3-glucuronide (-49.2%, 95% CI -56.1% to -41.1%, P = 3.1 × 10); in follow-up analyses, rs45446698-C was also associated with lower progesterone (-26.7%, 95% CI -39.4% to -11.6%, P = 0.001) and reduced risk of oestrogen and progesterone receptor-positive breast cancer (OR = 0.86, 95% CI 0.82-0.91, P = 6.9 × 10).

Conclusions: The CYP3A7*1C allele is associated with reduced risk of hormone receptor-positive breast cancer possibly mediated via an effect on the metabolism of endogenous sex hormones in premenopausal women.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41416-020-01185-wDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7884683PMC
February 2021

Body Mass Index and Tumor-Infiltrating Lymphocytes in Triple-Negative Breast Cancer.

J Natl Cancer Inst 2021 02;113(2):146-153

Laboratory for Translational Breast Cancer Research, Department of Oncology, KU Leuven, 3000 Leuven, Belgium.

Background: High levels of stromal tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes (sTIL) are associated with increased pathological complete response (pCR) rate and longer survival after neoadjuvant chemotherapy in triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) patients. Here, we evaluated the value of sTIL in predicting pCR and explored prognosis in TNBC patients treated with neoadjuvant chemotherapy according to body mass index (BMI).

Methods: sTIL were scored centrally on pretreatment biopsies from 2 retrospective series of nonunderweight TNBC patients (n = 445). sTIL and BMI were considered as binary (sTIL: <30.0% vs ≥30.0%; BMI: lean vs overweight and obese) and continuous variables. Associations with pCR (ypT0/isN0) were assessed using logistic regression, and associations with event-free survival and overall survival were assessed using Cox regressions.

Results: 236 (53.0%) patients were lean and 209 (47.0%) overweight and obese. pCR was achieved in 181 of 445 (41.7%) patients. Median sTIL was 11.0%, and 99 of 445 (22.2%) tumors had high sTIL. A statistically significant interaction between sTIL and BMI, considered as categorical or continuous variables, for predicting pCR was observed in the multivariable analysis (Pinteraction = .03 and .04, respectively). High sTIL were statistically significantly associated with pCR in lean (odds ratio [OR] = 4.24, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 2.10 to 8.56; P < .001) but not in heavier patients (OR = 1.48, 95% CI = 0.75 to 2.91; P = .26) in the multivariable analysis. High sTIL were further associated with increased event-free survival in lean (hazard ratio [HR] = 0.22, 95% CI = 0.08 to 0.62; P = .004) but not in heavier patients (HR = 0.53, 95% CI = 0.26 to 1.08; P = .08). Similar results were obtained for overall survival.

Conclusion: BMI is modifying the effect of sTIL on pCR and prognosis in TNBC patients treated with neoadjuvant chemotherapy.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/jnci/djaa090DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7850533PMC
February 2021

Breast Cancer Detection and Treatment Monitoring Using a Noninvasive Prenatal Testing Platform: Utility in Pregnant and Nonpregnant Populations.

Clin Chem 2020 11;66(11):1414-1423

Department of Oncology, Laboratory of Gynecological Oncology, KU Leuven, Leuven, Belgium.

Background: Numerous publications have reported the incidental detection of occult malignancies upon routine noninvasive prenatal testing (NIPT). However, these studies were not designed to evaluate the NIPT performance for cancer detection.

Methods: We investigated the sensitivity of a genome-wide NIPT pipeline, called GIPSeq, for detecting cancer-specific copy number alterations (CNAs) in plasma tumor DNA (ctDNA) of patients with breast cancer. To assess whether a pregnancy itself, with fetal cell-free DNA (cfDNA) in the maternal circulation, might influence the detection of ctDNA, results were compared in pregnant (n = 25) and nonpregnant (n = 25) cancer patients. Furthermore, the ability of GIPSeq to monitor treatment response was assessed.

Results: Overall GIPSeq sensitivity for detecting cancer-specific CNAs in plasma cfDNA was 26%. Fifteen percent of detected cases were asymptomatic at the time of blood sampling. GIPSeq sensitivity mainly depended on the tumor stage. Also, triple negative breast cancers (TNBC) were more frequently identified compared to hormone-positive or HER2-enriched tumors. This might be due to the presence of high-level gains and losses of cfDNA or high ctDNA loads in plasma of TNBC. Although higher GIPSeq sensitivity was noted in pregnant (36%) than in nonpregnant women (16%), the limited sample size prohibits a definite conclusion. Finally, GIPSeq profiling of cfDNA during therapy allowed monitoring of early treatment response.

Conclusions: The results underscore the potential of NIPT-based tests, analyzing CNAs in plasma cfDNA in a genome-wide and unbiased fashion for breast cancer detection, cancer subtyping and treatment monitoring in a pregnant and nonpregnant target population.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/clinchem/hvaa196DOI Listing
November 2020

Digital analysis of distant and cancer-associated mammary adipocytes.

Breast 2020 Dec 16;54:179-186. Epub 2020 Oct 16.

KU Leuven, Department of Oncology, Laboratory for Translational Breast Cancer Research, B-3000, Leuven, Belgium. Electronic address:

Adipocytes and cancer-associated adipocytes (CAAs) are poorly investigated cells in the tumor microenvironment. Different image analysis software exist for identifying and measuring these cells using scanned hematoxylin and eosin (H&E)-stained slides. It is however unclear which one is the most appropriate for breast cancer (BC) samples. Here, we compared three software (AdipoCount, Adiposoft, and HALO®). HALO® outperformed the other methods with regard to adipocyte identification, (> 96% sensitivity and specificity). All software performed equally good with regard to area and diameter measurement (concordance correlation coefficients > 0.97 and > 0.96, respectively). We then analyzed a series of 10 BCE samples (n = 51 H&E slides) with HALO®. Distant adipocytes were defined >2 mm away from cancer cells or fibrotic region, whereas CAAs as the first three lines of adipocytes close to the invasive front. Intra-mammary heterogeneity was limited, implying that measuring a single region of ∼500 adipocytes provides a reliable estimation of the distribution of their size features. CAAs had smaller areas (median fold-change: 2.62) and diameters (median fold-change: 1.64) as compared to distant adipocytes in the same breast (both p = 0.002). The size of CAAs and distant adipocytes was associated with the body mass index (BMI) of the patient (area: rho = 0.89, p = 0.001; rho = 0.71, p = 0.027, diameter: rho = 0.87 p = 0.002; rho = 0.65 p = 0.049, respectively). To conclude, we demonstrate that quantifying adipocytes in BC sections is feasible by digital pathology using H&E sections, setting the basis for a standardized analysis of mammary adiposity in larger series of patients.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.breast.2020.10.004DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7589564PMC
December 2020

Age-related remodelling of the blood immunological portrait and the local tumor immune response in patients with luminal breast cancer.

Clin Transl Immunology 2020 3;9(10):e1184. Epub 2020 Oct 3.

Laboratory of Experimental Oncology Department of Oncology KU Leuven Leuven Belgium.

Objectives: Aging is associated with altered immune function and chronic low-grade inflammation, referred to as immunosenescence. As breast cancer is an age-related disease, the impact of aging on tumor immune responses may have important consequences. However, effects of immunosenescence on breast tumor immune infiltration remain largely unknown.

Methods: This exploratory study investigated a broad panel of immune/senescence markers in peripheral blood and in the tumor microenvironment of young, middle-aged and old patients diagnosed with early invasive luminal (hormone-sensitive, HER2-negative) breast cancer. In the old group, G8-scores were computed as a correlate for clinical frailty.

Results: Significant age-related changes in plasma levels of several inflammatory mediators (IL-1α, IP-10, IL-8, MCP-1, CRP), immune checkpoint markers (Gal-9, sCD25, TIM-3, PD-L1), IGF-1 and circulating miRs (miR-18a, miR-19b, miR-20, miR-155, miR-195 and miR-326) were observed. Shifts were observed in distinct peripheral blood mononuclear cell populations, particularly naive CD8 T-cells. At the tumor level, aging was associated with lower total lymphocytic infiltration, together with decreased abundance of several immune cell markers, especially CD8. The relative fractions of cell subsets in the immune infiltrate were also altered. Clinical frailty was associated with higher frequencies of exhausted/senescent (CD27CD28 and/or CD57) terminally differentiated CD8 cells in the blood and with increased tumor infiltration by FOXP3 cells.

Conclusion: Aging and frailty are associated with profound changes of the blood and tumor immune profile in luminal breast cancer, pointing to a different interplay between tumor cells, immune cells and inflammatory mediators at higher age.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/cti2.1184DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7532981PMC
October 2020

Pictorial Imaging-Histopathology Correlation in a Rabbit with Hepatic VX2 Tumor Treated by Transarterial Vascular Disrupting Agent Administration.

Int J Med Sci 2020 25;17(15):2269-2275. Epub 2020 Aug 25.

KU Leuven, Biomedical Group, Campus Gasthuisberg, 3000 Leuven, Belgium.

Cancer vasculature is immature, disorganized and hyperpermeable and can serve as a target for anti-cancer therapies. Vascular disrupting agents (VDAs) are tubulin protein binding and depolymerizing agents that induce rapid tumoral vascular shutdown and subsequent cancer necrosis. However, two clinical problems exist with all VDAs, i.e. 1) incomplete anticancer effect and 2) dose-dependent toxicity. To tackle these problems, in our ongoing research, a novel VDA C118P is applied by transarterial administration of half the intravenous dose in rabbits with implanted VX2 liver tumor to assess its therapeutic efficacy. Nearly complete tumor necrosis was achieved by only a single arterial dose of C118P at 5 mg/kg, which was documented in a representative case by in vivo digital subtraction arteriogram (DSA) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and further confirmed by ex vivo microangiogram and histopathology. This convincing and promising preliminary outcome would warrant further comprehensive studies to explore the potentials of VDAs by transarterial administration either in mono-drug or in combination for management of solid cancers.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.7150/ijms.46165DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7484646PMC
July 2021

Assessment of stromal tumor infiltrating lymphocytes and immunohistochemical features in invasive micropapillary breast carcinoma with long-term outcomes.

Breast Cancer Res Treat 2020 Dec 12;184(3):985-998. Epub 2020 Sep 12.

Laboratory of Translational Cell & Tissue Research, Department of Imaging and Pathology, KU Leuven - University of Leuven, Leuven, Belgium.

Purpose: We studied the long-term outcomes of invasive micropapillary carcinoma (IMPCs) of the breast in relation to stromal tumor infiltrating lymphocytes (sTILs), prognostic biomarkers and clinicopathological features.

Methods: Stage I-III IMPCs treated with upfront surgery at our institution (January 2000 and December 2016) were included. Central pathology review was performed and sTILs (including zonal distribution and hot spot analysis) and tumor-associated plasma cells (TAPC) were evaluated. Expression of P53, BCL2, FOXP3, and WT1, which are variably linked to breast cancer prognosis, was measured by immunohistochemistry using tissue microarrays. Time-to-event endpoints were distant recurrence free interval (DRFI) and breast cancer-specific survival (BCSS).

Results: We included 111 patients of whom 59% were pure IMPCs. Standard clinicopathological features were comparable between pure and non-pure IMPCs. Overall, the mean sTILs level was 20% with higher proportion of sTILs present at the invasive front. There were no significant differences between pure- and non-pure IMPCs in sTILs levels, nor in the spatial distribution of the hot spot regions or in the distribution of TAPC. Higher sTILs correlated with worse DRFI (HR = 1.55; p = 0.0172) and BCSS (HR = 2.10; p < 0.001).

Conclusions: Clinicopathological features, geographical distribution of sTILs and TAPC are similar between pure and non-pure IMPCs. Despite a high proportion of grade 3 tumors and lymph node involvement, we observed a low rate of distant recurrences and breast cancer-related death in this cohort of stage I-III IMPCs treated with primary surgery. Caution in interpretation of the observed prognostic correlations is required given the very low number of events, warranting validation in other cohorts.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10549-020-05913-xDOI Listing
December 2020

Gold Nanoparticles: A New Golden Era in Oncology?

Pharmaceuticals (Basel) 2020 Aug 12;13(8). Epub 2020 Aug 12.

UOC Anatomia Patologica, AOU Cagliari, University of Cagliari, 09124 Cagliari, Italy.

In recent years, the spectrum of possible applications of gold in diagnostics and therapeutic approaches in clinical practice has changed significantly, becoming surprisingly broad. Nowadays, gold-based therapeutic agents are used in the therapy of multiple human diseases, ranging from degenerative to infectious diseases and, in particular, to cancer. At the basis of these performances of gold, there is the development of new gold-based nanoparticles, characterized by a promising risk/benefit ratio that favors their introduction in clinical trials. Gold nanoparticles appear as attractive elements in nanomedicine, a branch of modern clinical medicine, which combines high selectivity in targeting tumor cells and low toxicity. Thanks to these peculiar characteristics, gold nanoparticles appear as the starting point for the development of new gold-based therapeutic strategies in oncology. Here, the new gold-based therapeutic agents developed in recent years are described, with particular emphasis on the possible applications in clinical practice as anticancer agents, with the aim that their application will give rise to a new golden age in oncology and a breakthrough in the fight against cancer.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/ph13080192DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7464886PMC
August 2020

Prognostic value of histopathological DCIS features in a large-scale international interrater reliability study.

Breast Cancer Res Treat 2020 Oct 30;183(3):759-770. Epub 2020 Jul 30.

Division of Psychosocial Research and Epidemiology, Netherlands Cancer Institute - Antoni van Leeuwenhoek, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Purpose: For optimal management of ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), reproducible histopathological assessment is essential to distinguish low-risk from high-risk DCIS. Therefore, we analyzed interrater reliability of histopathological DCIS features and assessed their associations with subsequent ipsilateral invasive breast cancer (iIBC) risk.

Methods: Using a case-cohort design, reliability was assessed in a population-based, nationwide cohort of 2767 women with screen-detected DCIS diagnosed between 1993 and 2004, treated by breast-conserving surgery with/without radiotherapy (BCS ± RT) using Krippendorff's alpha (KA) and Gwet's AC2 (GAC2). Thirty-eight raters scored histopathological DCIS features including grade (2-tiered and 3-tiered), growth pattern, mitotic activity, periductal fibrosis, and lymphocytic infiltrate in 342 women. Using majority opinion-based scores for each feature, their association with subsequent iIBC risk was assessed using Cox regression.

Results: Interrater reliability of grade using various classifications was fair to moderate, and only substantial for grade 1 versus 2 + 3 when using GAC2 (0.78). Reliability for growth pattern (KA 0.44, GAC2 0.78), calcifications (KA 0.49, GAC2 0.70) and necrosis (KA 0.47, GAC2 0.70) was moderate using KA and substantial using GAC2; for (type of) periductal fibrosis and lymphocytic infiltrate fair to moderate estimates were found and for mitotic activity reliability was substantial using GAC2 (0.70). Only in patients treated with BCS-RT, high mitotic activity was associated with a higher iIBC risk in univariable analysis (Hazard Ratio (HR) 2.53, 95% Confidence Interval (95% CI) 1.05-6.11); grade 3 versus 1 + 2 (HR 2.64, 95% CI 1.35-5.14) and a cribriform/solid versus flat epithelial atypia/clinging/(micro)papillary growth pattern (HR 3.70, 95% CI 1.34-10.23) were independently associated with a higher iIBC risk.

Conclusions: Using majority opinion-based scores, DCIS grade, growth pattern, and mitotic activity are associated with iIBC risk in patients treated with BCS-RT, but interrater variability is substantial. Semi-quantitative grading, incorporating and separately evaluating nuclear pleomorphism, growth pattern, and mitotic activity, may improve the reliability and prognostic value of these features.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10549-020-05816-xDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7497690PMC
October 2020

A pan-cancer blueprint of the heterogeneous tumor microenvironment revealed by single-cell profiling.

Cell Res 2020 09 19;30(9):745-762. Epub 2020 Jun 19.

VIB Center for Cancer Biology, Leuven, Belgium.

The stromal compartment of the tumor microenvironment consists of a heterogeneous set of tissue-resident and tumor-infiltrating cells, which are profoundly moulded by cancer cells. An outstanding question is to what extent this heterogeneity is similar between cancers affecting different organs. Here, we profile 233,591 single cells from patients with lung, colorectal, ovary and breast cancer (n = 36) and construct a pan-cancer blueprint of stromal cell heterogeneity using different single-cell RNA and protein-based technologies. We identify 68 stromal cell populations, of which 46 are shared between cancer types and 22 are unique. We also characterise each population phenotypically by highlighting its marker genes, transcription factors, metabolic activities and tissue-specific expression differences. Resident cell types are characterised by substantial tissue specificity, while tumor-infiltrating cell types are largely shared across cancer types. Finally, by applying the blueprint to melanoma tumors treated with checkpoint immunotherapy and identifying a naïve CD4 T-cell phenotype predictive of response to checkpoint immunotherapy, we illustrate how it can serve as a guide to interpret scRNA-seq data. In conclusion, by providing a comprehensive blueprint through an interactive web server, we generate the first panoramic view on the shared complexity of stromal cells in different cancers.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41422-020-0355-0DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7608385PMC
September 2020

Pitfalls in assessing stromal tumor infiltrating lymphocytes (sTILs) in breast cancer.

NPJ Breast Cancer 2020 12;6:17. Epub 2020 May 12.

32Department of Biomedical Engineering, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH USA.

Stromal tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes (sTILs) are important prognostic and predictive biomarkers in triple-negative (TNBC) and HER2-positive breast cancer. Incorporating sTILs into clinical practice necessitates reproducible assessment. Previously developed standardized scoring guidelines have been widely embraced by the clinical and research communities. We evaluated sources of variability in sTIL assessment by pathologists in three previous sTIL ring studies. We identify common challenges and evaluate impact of discrepancies on outcome estimates in early TNBC using a newly-developed prognostic tool. Discordant sTIL assessment is driven by heterogeneity in lymphocyte distribution. Additional factors include: technical slide-related issues; scoring outside the tumor boundary; tumors with minimal assessable stroma; including lymphocytes associated with other structures; and including other inflammatory cells. Small variations in sTIL assessment modestly alter risk estimation in early TNBC but have the potential to affect treatment selection if cutpoints are employed. Scoring and averaging multiple areas, as well as use of reference images, improve consistency of sTIL evaluation. Moreover, to assist in avoiding the pitfalls identified in this analysis, we developed an educational resource available at www.tilsinbreastcancer.org/pitfalls.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41523-020-0156-0DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7217863PMC
May 2020

Computerised scoring protocol for identification and quantification of different immune cell populations in breast tumour regions by the use of QuPath software.

Histopathology 2020 Jul 18;77(1):79-91. Epub 2020 Jun 18.

Department of Pathology, Laboratory of Translational Cell and Tissue Research, KU Leuven, Leuven, Belgium.

Aims: As important prognostic and predictive information can be obtained from the composition, functionality and spatial arrangement of different immune cell subtypes, this study aims at characterizing the immune infiltrate in breast tumours.

Methods And Results: Tumour-infiltrating lymphocytes (TILs) in 62 patients with luminal B-like breast cancer were characterised by immunohistochemical staining with standard markers, and were subsequently classified and quantified by the use of QuPath software. In different delineated tumour regions, the proportion and density of CD3 , CD4 , CD5 , CD8 , CD20 and FOXP3 cells were assessed. The results of the software analysis were compared with those of manual counting for CD8 and CD20 staining. The QuPath scoring protocol slightly overestimated positive, negative and total lymphocyte counts and density, while minimally underestimating the proportion of positively stained lymphocytes. However, for density and proportion, no real differences from manual counting were observed. For all markers, the density of positively stained immune cells was higher in the invasive front than in the tumour centre, pointing to an accumulation of immune cells near the tumour boundaries. When we looked at the proportion of immunohistochemically positive immune cells, we observed enrichment of CD5 (P = 0.025) and CD20 (P < 0.001) at the periphery, and FOXP3 enrichment in the centre (P < 0.001).

Conclusion: The QuPath scoring protocol can adequately identify positively stained immune cells in breast tumours, and allows the evaluation of differences in immune cell proportion and density within different tumour regions. The entire tumour section can be quantitatively assessed quite rapidly, which is a major advantage over manual counting.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/his.14108DOI Listing
July 2020

Behavior of metastatic breast cancer according to subtype.

Breast Cancer Res Treat 2020 May 19;181(1):115-125. Epub 2020 Mar 19.

Multidisciplinary Breast Centre, University Hospitals Leuven, Leuven, Belgium.

Purpose: To explore the impact of breast cancer subtype on metastatic behavior and long-term outcome defined as breast cancer specific survival (BCSS).

Methods: Retrospective single centre cross-sectional study of 5972 patients with newly diagnosed, unilateral first diagnosis of breast cancer, diagnosed 2000-2010. Patients had either early breast cancer (EBC) treated primarily by surgery (SURG n = 5072), neoadjuvant systemic therapy (NEO n = 592), or upfront metastatic disease (META n = 308). Surrogate breast cancer subtypes were defined according to classical pathological criteria. Analysis was performed using Kaplan-Meier method and logistic/Cox regression.

Results: After median follow-up time of 103.6 months (IQR 73.4-139.2 months), 817 patients with EBC at diagnosis (14.4%) developed distant metastases of which 621 (12.2%) SURG and 196 (33.1%) NEO. Metastasis rate after EBC was: LuminalA 8.1%, LuminalB1(HER2-) 20.4%, LuminalB2(HER2+) without (neo)adjuvant trastuzumab 21.7%, LuminalB2(HER2+) with trastuzumab 9.0%, HER2Positive(ER-) without trastuzumab 30.0%, HER2Positive(ER-) with trastuzumab 19.9% and TripleNegative 25.3%. There were major differences in site of first metastases according to subtype. For single site first metastases, median BCSS assessed from time of metastases was worst for brain localization (13.9 months) and best for bone (48.4 months). Multiple sites of first metastases had worse BCSS from date of metastases than single site first metastases (median BCSS for 1 site 40.0, 2 sites 27.1, ≥ 3 sites 20.5 months). Median BCSS from date of metastases is longer in upfront metastases compared to secondary metastases after EBC (43.4 vs. 27.9 months).

Conclusions: Tumor subtype influences the metastatic behavior and survival after development of distant metastases.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10549-020-05597-3DOI Listing
May 2020

Fibromatosis-like metaplastic carcinoma: a case report and review of the literature.

Diagn Pathol 2020 Mar 3;15(1):20. Epub 2020 Mar 3.

Department of Pathology, University Hospitals Leuven, Herestraat 49, 3000, Leuven, Belgium.

Background: We report an unusual case of low-grade fibromatosis-like metaplastic carcinoma (LG-FLMC) of the breast. This exceedingly rare epithelial breast malignancy has been reported only 68 times in the past 20 years, and is classified as a subtype of metaplastic breast carcinoma (MBC). It is a locally aggressive tumor with a low potential for lymph node and distant metastases, but with a tendency to recur after excision. Here we describe a less common presentation of LG-FLMC, provide its molecular characterization, discuss the major differential diagnosis and bring a short review of the literature.

Case Presentation: A 65-year-old woman presented with a self-palpated breast lump that had discordant radio-pathological features. While imaging results were compatible with an infiltrative malignancy, on core needle biopsy (CNB) a sharply delineated lesion composed by a bland-looking population of spindle cells was observed; excision was recommended for final diagnosis. Histology of the resection specimen showed small areas of epithelial differentiation and foci of peripheral invasion. Immunohistochemical analysis revealed a co-immunoreactivity for epithelial and myoepithelial markers in the spindle cell component. Mutation analysis with a capture-based next generation sequencing method revealed pathogenic mutations in GNAS, TERT-promotor and PIK3R1 genes. A diagnosis of LG-FLMC was rendered.

Conclusion: This case highlights the importance of a broad differential diagnosis, exhaustive sampling and the use of a broad immunohistochemical panel whenever dealing with a low-grade spindle cell lesion in the breast, and provides further insights into the molecular background of LG-FLMC.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s13000-020-00943-xDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7053053PMC
March 2020
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