Predictive value of apoptosis, proliferation, HER-2, and topoisomerase IIα for anthracycline chemotherapy in locally advanced breast cancer

G. Arpino, D. R. Ciocca, H. Weiss, D. C. Allred, P. Daguerre, L. Vargas-Roig, M. Leuzzi, F. Gago, R. Elledge, S. K. Mohsin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Scopus citations


Purpose. Laboratory evidence indicates that tumor growth depends on the balance between cell proliferation and cell death, and many anticancer agents may exert their therapeutic effect by decreasing proliferation and increasing apoptosis. Additionally, clinical observations indicate that overexpression of HER-2 or topoisomerase IIα (topo IIα) may be predictors of better response to anthracyclines in breast cancer. The objective of this study was to determine if proliferation (Ki-67), apoptosis (TUNEL), and expression of HER-2 and topo IIα are affected by anthracycline treatment, and if these molecular markers predict anthracycline responsiveness. Experimental design. Thirty-three women with primary breast tumors ≥3 cm received either doxorubicin (75 mg/m2) or epirubicin (120 mg/m2) for 4 cycles before surgery. Clinical response was evaluated after 4 cycles of treatment. Changes in molecular markers were assessed from core needle taken before treatment (D0), at 24-48 h (Dl) and on day 7 (D7) while on treatment, and from the surgical specimen excised on day 84 (D84) after the fourth cycle of chemotherapy. Results. The overall response rate was 51% (17 of 33 patients), with a 12% complete clinical response rate (4 of 33 patients). There were trends for tumors with higher apoptosis and topo IIα at baseline (D0) to be more responsive to anthracyclines, p = 0.1 and p = 0.08, respectively. Median apoptosis increased from D0 to Dl (p = 0.06) while median Ki-67 decreased (p = 0.07). Overall, expression of HER-2 remained stable throughout the chemotherapy administration. By Day 84, topo IIα had significantly decreased from baseline in responders, while it increased in non-responders, p = 0.03. Conclusions. In human primary breast cancer, anthracycline treatment causes an early increase in apoptosis and a decrease in proliferation. In this pilot study, higher apoptosis and topo IIαa levels in primary tumors were associated with greater responsiveness to anthracyclines, and topo IIα levels declined in responsive tumors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)69-75
Number of pages7
JournalBreast Cancer Research and Treatment
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Aptosis
  • Breast cancer
  • Neoadjuvant chemotherapy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


Dive into the research topics of 'Predictive value of apoptosis, proliferation, HER-2, and topoisomerase IIα for anthracycline chemotherapy in locally advanced breast cancer'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this