BACKGROUND: The combination of trastuzumab and chemotherapy is currently considered the standard of care for patients with locally advanced/operable human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2)-positive breast cancer. The potential correlation between the pathologic complete response (pCR) and the overexpression of heat shock protein 90 (Hsp90), Ki67, and the amplification of topoisomerase II-α (TOPO2A) was investigated in a series of patients who received neoadjuvant treatment. METHODS: HER2-amplified patients who received neoadjuvant trastuzumab-docetaxel were gathered. Baseline and postsurgical Hsp90 immunoscore, Ki67 proliferation index, and TOPO2A amplification were determined together with classic clinical-pathologic predictors and correlated with pCR and imaging data. RESULTS: A total of 24 patients were evaluated for response; pCR, clinical, and radiologic response were found in 4 patients (16.7%; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.7-31.5), 9 patients (37.5%; 95% CI, 18.1-56.8), and 6 patients (25.0%; 95% CI, 7.6-42.3) patients, respectively. pCR was significantly higher in premenopausal (60.0% vs. 5.3%, P = .02) and negative hormonal receptor patients (50.0% vs. 5.6%, P = .03). A trend for patients with high Ki67 and TOPO2A/HER2 co-amplification was found (21.1% vs. none, P = .54; 50.0% vs. 12%, P = .16). pCR was significantly higher in patients with Hsp90 score 3+, in comparison with score 2+ and score 1+ (50.0% vs. 14.3% vs. none, P = .05). After treatment, a statistically significant lower Ki67 staining (30.0% vs. 17.5%, P = .005) and a trend for the decreased expression of high (score 3+) and moderate (score 2+) Hsp90 immunostaining (McNemar P = .25, Wilcoxon-Mann-Whitney P = .08) were found. CONCLUSIONS: Although underpowered, our data suggest that patients with HER2-positive breast cancer overexpressing Hsp90 should be investigated as a "newer" molecular subtype with a significantly higher chance of pCR when receiving anti-Her2 agents.
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