Publications by authors named "Sabrina Herrera"

7 Publications

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Low PTEN levels and PIK3CA mutations predict resistance to neoadjuvant lapatinib and trastuzumab without chemotherapy in patients with HER2 over-expressing breast cancer.

Breast Cancer Res Treat 2018 02 7;167(3):731-740. Epub 2017 Nov 7.

Dan L. Duncan Comprehensive Cancer Center at Baylor College of Medicine and Baylor St. Luke's Medical Center, BCM 600, One Baylor Plaza, Houston, TX, 77030, USA.

Purpose: Aberrant activation of the PI3K pathway has been implicated in resistance to HER2-targeted therapy, but results of clinical trials are confounded by the co-administration of chemotherapy. We investigated the effect of perturbations of this pathway in breast cancers from patients treated with neoadjuvant anti-HER2-targeted therapy without chemotherapy.

Patients And Methods: Baseline tumor samples from patients with HER2-positive breast cancer enrolled in TBCRC006 (NCT00548184), a 12-week neoadjuvant clinical trial with lapatinib plus trastuzumab [plus endocrine therapy for estrogen receptor (ER)-positive tumors], were assessed for PTEN status by immunohistochemistry and PIK3CA mutations by sequencing. Results were correlated with pathologic complete response (pCR).

Results: Of 64 evaluable patients, PTEN immunohistochemistry and PIK3CA mutation analysis were performed for 59 and 46 patients, respectively. PTEN status (dichotomized by H-score median) was correlated with pCR (32% in high PTEN vs. 9% in low PTEN, p = 0.04). PIK3CA mutations were identified in 14/46 tumors at baseline (30%) and did not correlate with ER or PTEN status. One patient whose tumor harbored a PIK3CA mutation achieved pCR (p = 0.14). When considered together (43 cases), 1/25 cases (4%) with a PIK3CA mutation and/or low PTEN expression levels had a pCR compared to 7/18 cases (39%) with wild-type PI3KCA and high PTEN expression levels (p = 0.006).

Conclusion: PI3K pathway activation is associated with resistance to lapatinib and trastuzumab in breast cancers, without chemotherapy. Further studies are warranted to investigate how to use these biomarkers to identify upfront patients who may respond to anti-HER2 alone, without chemotherapy.
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February 2018

Impact of immunohistochemistry-based molecular subtype on chemosensitivity and survival in Hispanic breast cancer patients following neoadjuvant chemotherapy.

Ecancermedicalscience 2015 6;9:562. Epub 2015 Aug 6.

Instituto de Cancerología-Clínica Las Américas, Medellín 05001000, Colombia ; Cancer Research Group, Instituto de Cancerología-Clínica Las Américas, Medellín 05001000, Colombia ; School of Medicine, Clinical Epidemiology Academic Group (GRAEPIC), Universidad de Antioquia, Medellín, Colombia.

Background: Neoadjuvant chemotherapy (NAC) is the standard treatment for patients with locally advanced breast cancer, showing improvement in disease-free survival (DFS) and overall survival (OS) rates in patients achieving pathological complete response (pCR). The relationship between immunohistochemistry-based molecular subtyping (IMS), chemo sensitivity and survival is currently a matter of interest. We explore this relationship in a Hispanic cohort of breast cancer patients treated with NAC.

Methods: A retrospective survival analysis was performed on Colombian females with breast cancer treated at Instituto de Cancerología-Clinica Las Américas between January 2009 and December 2011. Patients were classified according to immunohistochemistry-based subtyping into the following five groups: Luminal A, Luminal B, Luminal B/HER 2+, HER2-enriched, and triple-negative breast cancer. Demographic characteristics, recurrence pattern, and survival rate were reviewed by bivariate and multivariate analysis.

Results: A total of 328 patients fulfilled the study's inclusion parameters and the distribution of subtypes were as follows: Luminal A: 73 (22.3%), Luminal B/HER2-: 110 (33.5%), Luminal B/HER2+: 75 (22.9%), HER2-enriched: 30 (9.1%), and triple-negative: 40 (12.2%). The median follow-up was 41 months (interquartile range: 31-52). Pathological response to NAC was as follows: complete pathological response (pCR) in 28 (8.5%) patients, partial 247 (75.3%); stable disease 47 (14.3%), and progression 6 (1.8%) patients. The presence of pCR had a significant DFS and OS in the entire group (p = 0.01) but subtypes had different DFS in Luminal B (p = 0.01) and triple negative (p = 0.02) and also OS in Luminal B (p = 0.01) and triple negative (p = 0.01).

Conclusions: pCR is associated with an improved overall survival and disease-free survival rates in this group of Hispanics patients. Advanced stages, Luminal B subtypes, triple-negative tumours and non-pCR showed lower DFS.
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August 2015

Upregulation of ER Signaling as an Adaptive Mechanism of Cell Survival in HER2-Positive Breast Tumors Treated with Anti-HER2 Therapy.

Clin Cancer Res 2015 Sep 26;21(17):3995-4003. Epub 2015 May 26.

Lester and Sue Smith Breast Center, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas. Dan L. Duncan Cancer Center, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas. Department of Medicine, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas.

Purpose: To investigate the direct effect and therapeutic consequences of epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2)-targeting therapy on expression of estrogen receptor (ER) and Bcl2 in preclinical models and clinical tumor samples.

Experimental Design: Archived xenograft tumors from two preclinical models (UACC812 and MCF7/HER2-18) treated with ER and HER2-targeting therapies and also HER2+ clinical breast cancer specimens collected in a lapatinib neoadjuvant trial (baseline and week 2 posttreatment) were used. Expression levels of ER and Bcl2 were evaluated by immunohistochemistry and Western blot analysis. The effects of Bcl2 and ER inhibition, by ABT-737 and fulvestrant, respectively, were tested in parental versus lapatinib-resistant UACC812 cells in vitro.

Results: Expression of ER and Bcl2 was significantly increased in xenograft tumors with acquired resistance to anti-HER2 therapy compared with untreated tumors in both preclinical models (UACC812: ER P = 0.0014; Bcl2 P < 0.001 and MCF7/HER2-18: ER P = 0.0007; Bcl2 P = 0.0306). In the neoadjuvant clinical study, lapatinib treatment for 2 weeks was associated with parallel upregulation of ER and Bcl2 (Spearman coefficient: 0.70; P = 0.0002). Importantly, 18% of tumors originally ER-negative (ER(-)) converted to ER(+) upon anti-HER2 therapy. In ER(-)/HER2(+) MCF7/HER2-18 xenografts, ER reexpression was primarily observed in tumors responding to potent combination of anti-HER2 drugs. Estrogen deprivation added to this anti-HER2 regimen significantly delayed tumor progression (P = 0.018). In the UACC812 cells, fulvestrant, but not ABT-737, was able to completely inhibit anti-HER2-resistant growth (P < 0.0001).

Conclusions: HER2 inhibition can enhance or restore ER expression with parallel Bcl2 upregulation, representing an ER-dependent survival mechanism potentially leading to anti-HER2 resistance.
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September 2015

Int6 reduction activates stromal fibroblasts to enhance transforming activity in breast epithelial cells.

Cell Biosci 2015 8;5:10. Epub 2015 Mar 8.

Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology and Lester and Sue Smith Breast Center, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, 77030 TX USA.

Background: The INT6 gene was first discovered as a site of integration in mouse mammary tumors by the mouse mammary tumor virus; however, INT6's role in the development of human breast cancer remains largely unknown. By gene silencing, we have previously shown that repressing INT6 promotes transforming activity in untransformed human mammary epithelial cells. In the present study, guided by microarray data of human tumors, we have discovered a role of Int6 in stromal fibroblasts.

Results: We searched microarray databases of human tumors to assess Int6's role in breast cancer. While INT6 expression levels, as expected, were lower in breast tumors than in adjacent normal breast tissue samples, INT6 expression levels were also substantially lower in tumor stroma. By immunohistochemistry, we determined that the low levels of INT6 mRNA observed in the microarray databases most likely occurs in stromal fibroblasts, because far fewer fibroblasts in the tumor tissue showed detectable levels of the Int6 protein. To directly investigate the effects of Int6 repression on fibroblasts, we silenced INT6 expression in immortalized human mammary fibroblasts (HMFs). When these INT6-repressed HMFs were co-cultured with breast cancer cells, the abilities of the latter to form colonies in soft agar and to invade were enhanced. We analyzed INT6-repressed HMFs and found an increase in the levels of a key carcinoma-associated fibroblast (CAF) marker, smooth muscle actin. Furthermore, like CAFs, these INT6-repressed HMFs secreted more stromal cell-derived factor 1 (SDF-1), and the addition of an SDF-1 antagonist attenuated the INT6-repressed HMFs' ability to enhance soft agar colony formation when co-cultured with cancer cells. These INT6-repressed HMFs also expressed high levels of mesenchymal markers such as vimentin and N-cadherin. Intriguingly, when mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) were induced to form CAFs, Int6 levels were reduced.

Conclusion: These data suggest that besides enhancing transforming activity in epithelial cells, INT6 repression can also induce fibroblasts, and possibly MSCs as well, via mesenchymal-mesenchymal transitions to promote the formation of CAFs, leading to a proinvasive microenvironment for tumorigenesis.
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March 2015

Circulating and disseminated tumor cells from breast cancer patient-derived xenograft-bearing mice as a novel model to study metastasis.

Breast Cancer Res 2015 Jan 9;17. Epub 2015 Jan 9.

Lester and Sue Smith Breast Center, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX, USA.

Introduction: Real-time monitoring of biologic changes in tumors may be possible by investigating the transitional cells such as circulating tumor cells (CTCs) and disseminated tumor cells in bone marrow (BM-DTCs). However, the small numbers of CTCs and the limited access to bone marrow aspirates in cancer patients pose major hurdles. The goal of this study was to determine whether breast cancer (BC) patient-derived xenograft (PDX) mice could provide a constant and renewable source of CTCs and BM-DTCs, thereby representing a unique system for the study of metastatic processes.

Methods: CTCs and BM-DTCs, isolated from BC PDX-bearing mice, were identified by immunostaining for human pan-cytokeratin and nuclear counterstaining of red blood cell-lysed blood and bone marrow fractions, respectively. The rate of lung metastases (LM) was previously reported in these lines. Associations between the presence of CTCs, BM-DTCs, and LM were assessed by the Fisher's Exact and Cochran-Mantel-Haenszel tests. Two separate genetic signatures associated with the presence of CTC clusters and with lung metastatic potential were computed by using the expression arrays of primary tumors from different PDX lines and subsequently overlapped to identify common genes.

Results: In total, 18 BC PDX lines were evaluated. CTCs and BM-DTCs, present as either single cells or clusters, were detected in 83% (15 of 18) and 62.5% (10 to16) of the lines, respectively. A positive association was noted between the presence of CTCs and BM-DTCs within the same mice. LM was previously found in 9 of 18 (50%) lines, of which all nine had detectable CTCs. The presence of LM was strongly associated with the detection of CTC clusters but not with individual cells or detection of BM-DTCs. Overlapping of the two genetic signatures of the primary PDX tumors associated with the presence of CTC clusters and with lung metastatic potential identified four genes (HLA-DP1A, GJA1, PEG3, and XIST). This four-gene profile predicted distant metastases-free survival in publicly available datasets of early BC patients.

Conclusion: This study suggests that CTCs and BM-DTCs detected in BC PDX-bearing mice may represent a valuable and unique preclinical model for investigating the role of these rare cells in tumor metastases.
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January 2015

Overcoming endocrine resistance due to reduced PTEN levels in estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer by co-targeting mammalian target of rapamycin, protein kinase B, or mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase.

Breast Cancer Res 2014 Sep 11;16(5):430. Epub 2014 Sep 11.

Introduction: Activation of the phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K) pathway in estrogen receptor α (ER)-positive breast cancer is associated with reduced ER expression and activity, luminal B subtype, and poor outcome. Phosphatase and tensin homolog (PTEN), a negative regulator of this pathway, is typically lost in ER-negative breast cancer. We set out to clarify the role of reduced PTEN levels in endocrine resistance, and to explore the combination of newly developed PI3K downstream kinase inhibitors to overcome this resistance.

Methods: Altered cellular signaling, gene expression, and endocrine sensitivity were determined in inducible PTEN-knockdown ER-positive/human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2)-negative breast cancer cell and/or xenograft models. Single or two-agent combinations of kinase inhibitors were examined to improve endocrine therapy.

Results: Moderate PTEN reduction was sufficient to enhance PI3K signaling, generate a gene signature associated with the luminal B subtype of breast cancer, and cause endocrine resistance in vitro and in vivo. The mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR), protein kinase B (AKT), or mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase (MEK) inhibitors, alone or in combination, improved endocrine therapy, but the efficacy varied by PTEN levels, type of endocrine therapy, and the specific inhibitor(s). A single-agent AKT inhibitor combined with fulvestrant conferred superior efficacy in overcoming resistance, inducing apoptosis and tumor regression.

Conclusions: Moderate reduction in PTEN, without complete loss, can activate the PI3K pathway to cause endocrine resistance in ER-positive breast cancer, which can be overcome by combining endocrine therapy with inhibitors of the PI3K pathway. Our data suggests that the ER degrader fulvestrant, to block both ligand-dependent and -independent ER signaling, combined with an AKT inhibitor is an effective strategy to test in patients.
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September 2014