Defects in the homologous recombination (HR) DNA repair pathway sensitize tumors to therapeutics that target this pathway. A significant proportion of triple-negative breast cancers (TNBC) carry HR defects. The HRD assay is highly associated with sensitivity to neoadjuvant platinum-based chemotherapy in TNBC. Standard chemotherapy consists of some combination of an anthracycline, cyclophosphamide, and taxane. This study assesses the association of HR deficiency status with response to standard neoadjuvant chemotherapy in TNBC or BRCA1/2 mutation-associated breast cancer.
Tumor samples were retrospectively obtained from 45 TNBC patients and 2 BRCA1/2 mutant, hormone receptor-positive/HER2-negative breast cancer patients who received anthracycline- and/or taxane-based neoadjuvant chemotherapy at Stanford University or Cedars-Sinai Medical Centers. The HRD score and tumor BRCA1/2 mutation status were determined from baseline tumor biopsies. HR deficient tumors were those with a HRD score of ≥ 42 or a tumor BRCA1/2 mutation. Response was categorized by the residual cancer burden (RCB) index.
HR deficient patients were more likely to achieve a pathologic complete response (pCR) compared with non-deficient patients (OR 13.06, CI 1.52–11.241, p = 0.0028). Among BRCA1/2 mutation wild-type patients, HR deficient patients were more likely to achieve a pCR (OR 16, 95% CI 1.65–160.41, p = 0.0041) compared with HR non-deficient patients. Further, HRD scores were highly concordant pre- and post-therapy (Spearman correlation > 99%).
HR deficiency status is significantly associated with response to standard neoadjuvant chemotherapy in TNBC. This observation is consistent with the mechanisms of action of doxorubicin and cyclophosphamide as DNA damaging agents.