Correlation of an immune-related 8-gene panel with pathologic response to neoadjuvant chemotherapy in patients with primary breast cancers

Ling Ming Tseng, Chi Cheng Huang, Yi Fang Tsai, Ji Lin Chen, Ta Chung Chao, Jiun I. Lai, Pei Ju Lien, Yen Shu Lin, Chin Jung Feng, Yen Jen Chen, Jen Hwey Chiu, Chih Yi Hsu, Chun Yu Liu*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Neoadjuvant chemotherapy (NACT)-induced pathologic complete response (pCR) is associated with a favorable prognosis for breast cancer. Prior research links tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes with breast cancer chemotherapy response, suggesting the tumor-immune microenvironment's role. The aim of this study was to evaluate the immune-related genes that exhibit associations with the response to NACT. In this study, we analyzed a total of 37 patients (aged 27–67) who received NACT as the first-line treatment for primary breast cancer, followed by surgery. This group consisted of nine patients (24.3 %) with estrogen receptor (ER)-positive/HER2-negative status, ten patients (27.0 %) with ER-positive/HER2-positive status, five patients (13.5 %) with ER-negative/HER2-positive status, and thirteen patients (35.1 %) with triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC). Among these patients, twelve (32.4 %) achieved a pCR, with eight (66.6 %) having HER2-positive tumors, and the remaining four having TNBC. To identify immune-related genes linked with pCR in subjects with breast cancer prior to NACT, we collected fresh tissues for next-generation sequencing. Patients with pCR had higher expressions of eight genes, KLRK1, IGJ, CD69, CD40LG, MS4A1, CD1C, KLRB1, and CA4, compared to non-pCR patients. The 8-gene signature was associated with good prognosis and linked to better relapse-free survival in patients receiving chemotherapy. The expression of these genes was involved in better drug response, displaying a positive correlation with the infiltration of immune cells. In conclusion, we have identified eight immune-related genes that are associated with a favorable prognosis and positive responses to drugs. This 8-gene signature could potentially provide prognostic insights for breast cancer patients undergoing NACT.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101782
JournalTranslational Oncology
StatePublished - Dec 2023


  • Breast cancer
  • Neoadjuvant chemotherapy
  • Pathologic complete response


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