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Clin Cancer Res. 2010 Feb 15;16(4):1272-80. doi: 10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-09-1844. Epub 2010 Feb 9.

The predictive value of HLA class I tumor cell expression and presence of intratumoral Tregs for chemotherapy in patients with early breast cancer.

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Departments of Surgery, Leiden University Medical Center, Leiden, The Netherlands.



We hypothesized that T-cell immune interaction affects tumor development and thus clinical outcome. Therefore, we examined the clinical impact of human leukocyte antigen (HLA) class I tumor cell expression and regulatory T-cell (Treg) infiltration in breast cancer.


Our study population (N = 677) is consisted of all early breast cancer patients primarily treated with surgery in our center between 1985 and 1994. Formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded tumor tissue was immunohistochemically stained using HCA2, HC10, and Foxp3 monoclonal antibodies.


HLA class I expression was evaluated by combining results from HCA2 and HC10 antibodies and classified into three groups: loss, downregulation, and expression. Remarkably, only in patients who received chemotherapy, both presence of Treg (P = 0.013) and higher HLA class I expression levels (P = 0.002) resulted in less relapses, independently of other variables. Treg and HLA class I were not of influence on clinical outcome in patients who did not receive chemotherapy.


We showed that HLA class I and Treg affect prognosis exclusively in chemotherapy-treated patients and are therefore one of the few predictive factors for chemotherapy response in early breast cancer patients. Chemotherapy may selectively eliminate Treg, thus enabling CTLs to kill tumor cells that have retained HLA class I expression. As a consequence, HLA class I and Treg can predict response to chemotherapy with high discriminative power. These markers could be applied in response prediction to chemotherapy in breast cancer patients.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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