Clinico-pathological relationship between androgen receptor and tumour infiltrating lymphocytes in triple negative breast cancer

11 Nov 2021
Hagar Elghazawy, Joaira Bakkach, Thanaa Helal, Ahmed M Aref, Mohamed Kelany, Lamiaa E Abdallah, Fatma S Abdelbakey, Dalia Ali, Doaa Z Ali, Mai O Ahmed, Amer Ali Abd El-Hafeez, Pradipta Ghosh, Mohamed O Alorabi

Background: Triple negative breast cancer (TNBC) is an aggressive subtype of breast cancer (BC) with ill-defined therapeutic targets. Androgen receptor (AR) and tumour-infiltrating lymphocytes (TILs) had a prognostic and predictive value in TNBC. The relationship between AR, TILs and clinical behaviour is still not fully understood.

Methods: Thirty-six TNBC patients were evaluated for AR (positive if ≥1% expression), CD3, CD4, CD8 and CD20 by immunohistochemistry. Stromal TILs were quantified following TILs Working Group recommendations. Lymphocyte-predominant breast cancer (LPBC) was defined as stromal TILs ≥ 50%, whereas lymphocyte-deficient breast cancer (LDBC) was defined as <50%.

Results: The mean age was 52.5 years and 27.8% were ≥60 years. Seven patients (21.2%) were AR+. All AR+ cases were postmenopausal (≥50 years old). LPBC was 32.2% of the whole cohort. Median TILs were 37.5% and 10% (p = 0.1) and median CD20 was 20% and 7.5% (p = 0.008) in AR− and AR+, respectively. Mean CD3 was 80.7% and 93.3% (p = 0.007) and CD8 was 75% and 80.8% (p= 0.41) in AR− and AR+, respectively. All patients who were ≥60 years old expressed CD20. LDBC was found to be significantly higher in N+ versus N− patients (p = 0.03) with median TILs of 20% versus 50% in N+ versus N−, respectively (p = 0.03). LDBC was associated with higher risk of lymph node (LN) involvement (odds ratio = 6; 95% CI = 1.05–34.21; p = 0.04).

Conclusions: AR expression was evident in older age (≥50 years). Median CD20 was higher in AR− TNBC, while mean CD3 was higher in AR+ tumours. LDBC was associated with higher risk of LN involvement. Larger studies are needed to focus on the clinical impact of the relation between AR and TILs in TNBC.

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