Molecular oncology

Disorganised stroma determined on pre-treatment breast cancer biopsies is associated with poor response to neoadjuvant chemotherapy: Results from the NEOZOTAC trial.

PMID 25735561


The tumor-associated stroma is of importance for tumor progression and is generally accepted to have a significant influence on patient prognosis. However, little is known regarding specific features of tumor-associated stromal tissues and response to (neoadjuvant) chemotherapy. This study investigated the predictive value of extracellular matrix organization on response to chemotherapy in patients treated in the NEOZOTAC trial. Stromal organisation was analyzed via a simple method using image analysis software on hematoxylin and eosin (H&E)-stained slides from primary tumor biopsies collected as part of the NEOZOTAC trial. Heidenhain's AZAN trichrome-stained slides were also analyzed for comparison of collagen evaluation. Sections were stained for phospho-Smad2 (pS2) in order to determine the relationship of TGF-β signaling with stromal organization. A statistically significant relationship was observed between stroma consisting of organised collagen and pathological response to neoadjuvant chemotherapy (Odds Ratio 0.276, 95%CI 0.124-0.614, P = 0.002). This parameter was also related to ER-status (P = 0.003), clinical tumor -status (P = 0.041), nodal status (P = 0.029) and pS2 status (P = 0.025). Correlation between stromal organisation determined on H&E-stained and AZAN-stained tissue sections was high (Pearson's correlation coefficient = 0.806). Intratumoral stromal organisation determined using pre-treatment breast cancer biopsies was related to pathological response to chemotherapy. This parameter might play a role in the management of breast cancer for identifying those patients that are likely to benefit from neoadjuvant chemotherapy.