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Mod Pathol. 2019 Jan;32(1):81-87. doi: 10.1038/s41379-018-0116-5. Epub 2018 Aug 29.

Immunohistochemical analysis of estrogen receptor in breast cancer with ESR1 mutations detected by hybrid capture-based next-generation sequencing.

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Department of Pathology, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York, NY, USA.
Department of Pathology, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York, NY, USA.
Department of Pathology, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA, USA.
Human Oncology and Pathogenesis Program, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York, NY, USA.
Department of Medicine, Division of Solid Tumor Oncology, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York, NY, USA.


Estrogen receptor-α (ER-α), encoded by ESR1, is detected by immunohistochemistry in approximately 70% of invasive breast cancers and serves as a strong predictive biomarker. ESR1-activating mutations in the ligand-binding domain have been reported in up to 35-40% of ER-positive metastatic breast cancers and are associated with endocrine therapy resistance and disease progression. At present, it is unclear whether ESR1 mutations alter the immunohistochemical detection of ER performed in routine clinical practice. In this study, ESR1 mutations in breast cancer were identified utilizing Memorial Sloan Kettering-Integrated Mutation Profiling of Actionable Cancer Targets (MSK-IMPACT), a Food and Drug Administration-approved hybridization capture-based next-generation sequencing assay. Five hundred and eighty-six breast cancers from patients with locally advanced or metastatic disease were analyzed using MSK-IMPACT in the study period. ESR1 somatic alterations were identified in 67 breast cancer samples from 66 patients. Immunohistochemical analysis of ER, progesterone receptor, and human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 was performed on the primary and treated breast cancers from these patients at the time of diagnosis. Twenty unique ESR1 mutations were identified involving the ligand-binding domain, all in breast cancer samples from patients previously treated with endocrine therapy. The most frequent mutations were D538G (n = 22), Y537S (n = 7), and E380Q (n = 7). All breast cancer samples with an ESR1 mutation were ER-positive by immunohistochemistry. Review of the ER immunohistochemistry in the paired untreated primary tumor and treated tumor from 34 patients showed no detectable change in the ER-positive immunohistochemical status (median percentage of invasive tumor cells with nuclear staining: untreated primary tumor 90%, treated tumor 95%). We conclude that ESR1 mutations do not appreciably diminish ER-positive staining by immunohistochemistry. In addition to standard biomarker testing by immunohistochemistry, the assessment of ESR1 mutations by molecular testing can help guide the clinical management of patients with ER-positive breast cancer in the setting of endocrine resistance and progression of disease.

[Available on 2020-01-01]

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