A long-term analysis by the Early Breast Cancer Trialist Group (EBCTG) revealed a strong correlation between local control and cancer-specific mortality. MicroRNAs (miRs), short (20-25 nucleotides) non-coding RNAs, have been described as prognosticators and predictors for breast cancer in recent years. The aim of the current study was to identify miRs that can predict local control after breast conserving therapy (BCT) in early stage breast cancer.
Clinical data of 46 early stage breast cancer patients with local relapse after BCT were selected from the institutional database. These patients were matched to 101 control patients showing identical clinical features but without local relapse. The study was conducted in two steps. (1) In the pilot study, 32 patients (16 relapses versus 16 controls) were screened for the most de-regulated microRNAs (= candidate microRNAs) in a panel of 1250 miRs by microarray technology. Eight miRs were found to be significantly de-regulated. (2) In the validation study, the candidate microRNAs were analyzed in an independent cohort of 115 patients (30 relapses versus 85 controls) with reverse transcription quantitative polymerase chain reaction (RT-qPCR). From these eight candidates, hsa-miR-375 could be validated. Its median fold change was 2.28 (Mann-Whitney U test, corrected p value = 0.008). In the log-rank analysis, high expression levels of hsa-miR-375 correlated with a significantly higher risk of local relapse (p = 0.003). In a multivariate analysis (forward stepwise regression) including established predictors and prognosticators, hsa-miR-375 was the only variable that was able to distinguish the statistical significance between relapse and control groups (raw p value = 0.000195 HR = 0.76, 95 % CI 0.66-0.88; corrected p value = 0.005).
Hsa-miR-375 predicts local control in patient with early stage breast cancer, especially in estrogen receptor α (ER-α)-positive patients. It can therefore serve as an additional molecular marker for treatment choice independently from known predictors and prognosticators. Validation in larger prospective studies is warranted.
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