Virchows Arch 2020 Apr 18;476(4):569-576. Epub 2019 Dec 18.
Department of Radiological, Oncological and Pathological Sciences, Sapienza University of Rome, 00161, Rome, Italy.
The immune system plays a key role in tumor surveillance and escape. Recently, CD73 has been proposed as a prognostic biomarker associated with disease-free survival and overall survival in triple negative breast cancer (TNBC). In this study, we investigated the role of both CD73 expression and stromal tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes (TILs) in predicting the pathologic response of TNBC to neoadjuvant chemotherapy (NACT). We retrospectively analyzed CD73 immunohistochemical expression and stromal TILs on 61 consecutive biopsies from patients who received standard NACT. Twenty-three patients (38%) achieved pathologic complete response (pCR). TILs were present in the majority of biopsies (93%) with percentages ranging from 2 to 80%. High TILs (≥ 50%) were found in 30% of cases, and in this group, pCR was achieved in 76.5% of cases. Levels of TILs were associated with a better pathologic response only at univariate analysis (p = 0.037). The median value of CD73 expression on tumor cells was 40%. In 32 (52.5%) basal biopsies, CD73 expression was below or equal to median value ("low CD73"). A pCR was obtained in 53% of cases with "low CD73" and in 21% with high CD73, and this was statistically different both at univariate (p = 0.011) and multivariate (p = 0.014) analysis.Our results suggest that CD73 expression better predicts the response to NACT than TILs in TNBC. Characterization of both TILs and microenvironment could be a promising approach to personalize treatment.