Impact of Anti-HER2 Treatments Combined With Atezolizumab on the Tumor Immune Microenvironment in Early or Metastatic Breast Cancer: Results From a Phase Ib Study

Erika P. Hamilton, Virginia Kaklamani, Carla Falkson, Gregory A. Vidal, Patrick J. Ward, Monika Patre, Stephen Y. Chui, Jacob Rotmensch, Kushagra Gupta, Luciana Molinero, Yijin Li, Leisha A. Emens

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Background: Despite advances, there continues to be unmet need in breast cancer. Combining anti–programmed death-ligand 1 (PD-L1) cancer immunotherapy atezolizumab with other targeted therapies may enhance T-cell–dependent cytolytic antitumor activity. Methods: This open-label, phase Ib study evaluated the safety of atezolizumab-based combinations with antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity or antibody-drug conjugate (ADC) agents. Patients with unresectable human epidermal growth factor receptor 2–positive (HER2+) locally advanced or metastatic breast cancer (mBC) received atezolizumab with trastuzumab/pertuzumab, atezolizumab with the ADC ado-trastuzumab emtansine (T-DM1), or atezolizumab with trastuzumab/pertuzumab and docetaxel. In an early–breast cancer (eBC) “window of opportunity” study, patients with operable HER2+ locally advanced or inflammatory eBC received neoadjuvant atezolizumab with trastuzumab/pertuzumab or atezolizumab/T-DM1, followed by docetaxel, carboplatin, and trastuzumab/pertuzumab. Exploratory outcomes included tumor response and biomarkers. Results: By March 15, 2019, 73 patients were enrolled. Safety findings were consistent with the treatment components’ individual profiles. Objective responses were observed in 2 of 6 and 5 of 14 patients in 2 mBC cohorts receiving atezolizumab/T-DM1 and in 6 of 6 patients with mBC receiving atezolizumab, trastuzumab/pertuzumab, and docetaxel. PD-L1 in immune cells was the only biomarker that increased with atezolizumab/T-DM1. In the window of opportunity cohorts, PD-L1 levels and CD8+ T-cell infiltration increased from baseline in HER2+ eBC tumors receiving atezolizumab with trastuzumab/pertuzumab or T-DM1, irrespective of response. Despite increases in T-cell and B-cell gene signatures with trastuzumab/pertuzumab, but not T-DM1, neither combination promoted T-cell receptor clonal expansion. Conclusion: Atezolizumab with antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity or ADC agents appears safe and may activate the adaptive immune system of patients with HER2+ eBC tumors more than those with mBC tumors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)539-551
Number of pages13
JournalClinical breast cancer
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Immunotherapy
  • Pertuzumab
  • T-DM1
  • Trastuzumab
  • Trastuzumab emtansine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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