Open Access Research

Molecular signatures mostly associated with NK cells are predictive of relapse free survival in breast cancer patients

Maria Libera Ascierto1138*, Michael O Idowu2, Yingdong Zhao3, Hanif Khalak4, Kyle K Payne5, Xiang-Yang Wang6, Catherine I Dumur2, Davide Bedognetti1, Sara Tomei4, Paolo A Ascierto7, Anil Shanker11, Harry D Bear9, Ena Wang1, Francesco M Marincola112, Andrea De Maria108 and Masoud H Manjili5

Author Affiliations

1 Infectious Disease and Immunogenetics Section (IDIS), Department of Transfusion Medicine, Clinical Center and FOCIS Center of Excellence, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD, USA

2 Department of Pathology, Virginia Commonwealth University, Massey Cancer Centre, Richmond, VA, USA

3 Biometric research Branch, Division of Cancer Treatment and Diagnosis, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD, USA

4 Weill Cornell Medical College (WCMC), Doha, Qatar

5 Department of Microbiology & Immunology, Virginia Commonwealth University, Massey Cancer Centre, Richmond, VA, USA

6 Department of Human Genetics, Virginia Commonwealth University, Massey Cancer Centre, Richmond, VA, USA

7 Unit of Medical Oncology and Innovative Therapy, Istituto Nazionale Tumori Fondazione “G. Pascale”, Naples, Italy

8 Department of Health Sciences and Centre of Excellence for Biomedical Research University of Genoa, Genoa, Italy

9 Department of Surgery, Virginia Commonwealth University, Massey Cancer Centre, Richmond, VA, USA

10 IRCCS Az.Osp.Univ., San Martino-IST Istituto Nazionale Ricerca sul Cancro, Genoa, Italy

11 Laboratory of Lymphocyte Function, Department of Biochemistry & Cancer Biology, School of Medicine, Meharry Medical College, Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Centre, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN, USA

12 Chief Research Officer Sidra Medical and Research Centre, Doha, Qatar

13 Present Address: Infectious Disease and Immunogenetics Section (IDIS), Department of Transfusion Medicine, National Institutes of Health, Bldg 10, Room 1N224, 9000 Rockville Pike, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA

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Journal of Translational Medicine 2013, 11:145  doi:10.1186/1479-5876-11-145

Published: 12 June 2013

Abstract

Background

Recent observations suggest that immune-mediated tissue destruction is dependent upon coordinate activation of immune genes expressed by cells of the innate and adaptive immune systems.

Methods

Here, we performed a retrospective pilot study to investigate whether the coordinate expression of molecular signature mostly associated with NK cells could be used to segregate breast cancer patients into relapse and relapse-free outcomes.

Results

By analyzing primary breast cancer specimens derived from patients who experienced either 58–116 months (~5-9 years) relapse-free survival or developed tumor relapse within 9–76 months (~1-6 years) we found that the expression of molecules involved in activating signaling of NK cells and in NK cells: target interaction is increased in patients with favorable prognosis.

Conclusions

The parameters identified in this study, together with the prognostic signature previously reported by our group, highlight the cooperation between the innate and adaptive immune components within the tumor microenvironment.

Keywords:
Breast cancer prognosis; Molecular markers; Innate immunity; NK cells; Tumour relapse; Tumour microenvironment