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Exploring the two-gene ratio in breast cancer – independent roles for HOXB13 and IL17BR in prediction of clinical outcome
Linköping University, Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, Oncology. Linköping University, Faculty of Health Sciences.
Lund University Hospital.
Lund University Hospital.
Lund University Hospital.
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2008 (English)In: Breast Cancer Research and Treatment, ISSN 0167-6806, E-ISSN 1573-7217, Vol. 107, no 2, 225-234 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Background: The two-gene expression ratio HOXB13:IL17BR has been proposed to predict the outcome of tamoxifen-treated breast cancer patients. We intended to examine whether this ratio can predict the benefit of 5 years vs. 2 years of tamoxifen treatment of postmenopausal patients. A further objective was to investigate any prognostic effects of the ratio in systemically untreated premenopausal patients. Based on the current knowledge of HOXB13 and IL17BR, we hypothesized that these genes may have individual prognostic or predictive power.

Patients and methods: Expression of HOXB13 and IL17BR were quantified by real-time PCR in tumors from 264 randomized postmenopausal patients and 93 systemically untreated premenopausal patients.

Results: A high HOXB13:IL17BR ratio was associated with aggressive tumor characteristics, as were low levels of IL17BR alone. The ratio and HOXB13 alone predicted recurrence-free survival after endocrine treatment, with a benefit of prolonged treatment in estrogen receptor-positive patients correlated to a low ratio (recurrence rate ratio: RR=0.39; p=0.030), or low expression of HOXB13 (RR=0.37; p=0.015). No difference in recurrence-free survival was seen for the high ratio or high HOXB13 subgroups. The predictive value of HOXB13 and HOXB13:IL17BR was significant in multivariate analysis. In the systemically untreated cohort, only IL17BR showed independent prognostic significance.

Conclusion: We conclude that the ratio or HOXB13 alone can predict the benefit of endocrine therapy, with a high ratio or a high expression rendering patients less likely to respond. We have also shown that IL17BR might be an independent prognostic factor in breast cancer.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Institutionen för klinisk och experimentell medicin , 2008. Vol. 107, no 2, 225-234 p.
National Category
Medical and Health Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-11861DOI: 10.1007/s10549-007-9541-8OAI: diva2:18263
The original publication is available at Piiha-Lotta Jerevall, Sara Brommesson, Carina Strand, Sofia Gruvberger-Saal, Per Malmström, Bo Nordenskjöld, Sten Wingren, Peter Söderkvist, Mårten Fernö and Olle Stål, Exploring the two-gene ratio in breast cancer – independent roles for HOXB13 and IL17BR in prediction of clinical outcome, 2008, Breast Cancer Research and Treatment, (107), 2, 225-234. Copyright: Springer, www.springerlink.comAvailable from: 2008-05-21 Created: 2008-05-21 Last updated: 2011-05-12Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Homeobox B13 in breast cancer: Prediction of tamoxifen benefit
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Homeobox B13 in breast cancer: Prediction of tamoxifen benefit
2011 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

A major issue in the management of breast cancer is to identify patients who are less likely to be cured after primary treatment and would benefit from adjuvant chemotherapy. Of great importance is also identification of patients with only local disease who traditionally would be given chemotherapy but would survive without. In this thesis we have validated the utility of the two-gene ratio HOXB13:IL17BR, which previously has been demonstrated to predict disease-free survival in tamoxifen-treated breast cancer patients. We have also studied the prognostic and predictive utility of a single gene as a biomarker in breast cancer medicine.

We could confirm that HOXB13:IL17BR may classify patients with different treatment benefit; only patients with a low value showed benefit from prolonged duration of tamoxifen therapy, whereas for the group with high ratios, the long-term recurrence rate did not improve with longer treatment duration.

The combination of HOXB13:IL17BR and the molecular grade index (MGI), another prognostic marker, has been shown to outperform either alone in predicting risk of breast cancer recurrence. We validated the prognostic utility of HOXB13:IL17BR+MGI in a large randomized patient cohort and found that this risk classification identified more than 50% of the tamoxifen-treated lymph node-negative patients as having a less than 3% risk of distant recurrence and breast cancer death. Furthermore, we developed and tested a continuous risk model of HOXB13:IL17BR+MGI called Breast Cancer Index (BCI), for estimation of recurrence risk at the individual level. Our study shows that BCI has the ability to identify more than 50% of patients with a low risk of recurrence more accurately than using traditional risk assessment. These results suggest that BCI may help clinicians to make better informed treatment decisions and spare toxic chemotherapy for a large group of breast cancer patients.

The protein expression of HOXB13 was also shown to be a valuable predictor in postmenopausal patients. High expression was associated with worse outcome after tamoxifen therapy. In a premenopausal cohort, patients with hormone receptor-positive tumors showed benefit from tamoxifen regardless of HOXB13 expression. Further analysis indicated that estrogen receptor β (ERβ) modified the performance of HOXB13 as a predictor of treatment effect and should be taken into account when identifying patients less likely to respond to the therapy given.

In conclusion, BCI identifies patients with a very low risk of distant recurrence. It may be utilized in the management of breast cancer patients to optimize the use of chemotherapy. HOXB13 protein expression may be used as a marker for tamoxifen benefit, but its performance in premenopausal patients might be modified by ERβ.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Linköping: Linköping University Electronic Press, 2011. 69 p.
Linköping University Medical Dissertations, ISSN 0345-0082 ; 1243
National Category
Medical and Health Sciences
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-68137 (URN)978-91-7393-184-7 (ISBN)
Public defence
2011-06-01, Berzeliussalen, Hälsouniversitetet, Campus US, Linköpings universitet, Linköping, 13:00 (Swedish)
Available from: 2011-05-12 Created: 2011-05-12 Last updated: 2011-05-12Bibliographically approved

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