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Am J Pathol. 2010 Oct;177(4):1647-56. doi: 10.2353/ajpath.2010.090885. Epub 2010 Sep 2.

PTEN, PIK3CA, p-AKT, and p-p70S6K status: association with trastuzumab response and survival in patients with HER2-positive metastatic breast cancer.

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Department of Molecular and Cellular Oncology, University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, 1515 Holcombe Boulevard, Houston, TX 77030, USA.


Phosphatase and tensin homolog (PTEN) is a key modulator of trastuzumab sensitivity in HER2-overexpressing breast cancer. Because PTEN opposes the downstream signaling of phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K), we investigated the role of PTEN and other components of the PI3K pathway in trastuzumab resistance. We analyzed the status of PTEN, p-AKT-Ser473, and p-p70S6K-Thr389 using immunohistochemistry. PIK3CA mutation status was analyzed by direct sequencing. Primary tumor tissue was available from 137 patients with HER2-overexpressing metastatic breast cancer who had received trastuzumab-based chemotherapy. We observed that each of the four biomarkers alone did not significantly correlate with trastuzumab response, whereas PTEN loss alone significantly correlated with shorter survival times (P = 0.023). PI3K pathway activation, defined as PTEN loss and/or PIK3CA mutation, was associated with a poor response to trastuzumab (P = 0.047) and a shorter survival time (P = 0.015). PTEN loss was significantly associated with a poor response to trastuzumab (P = 0.028) and shorter survival time (P = 0.008) in patients who had received first-line trastuzumab and in patients with estrogen receptor- (P = 0.029) and progesterone receptor-negative tumors (P = 0.033). p-AKT-Ser473 and p-p70S6K-Thr389 each had a limited correlation with trastuzumab response. When these markers were combined with PTEN loss, an increased correlation with patient outcome was observed. In conclusion, PI3K pathway activation plays a pivotal role in trastuzumab resistance. Our findings may facilitate the evaluation of tumor response to trastuzumab-based and targeted therapies.

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