Dynamic changes of Receptor activator of nuclear factor-κB expression in Circulating Tumor Cells during Denosumab predict treatment effectiveness in Metastatic Breast Cancer

Francesco Pantano, Elisabetta Rossi, Michele Iuliani, Antonella Facchinetti, Sonia Simonetti, Giulia Ribelli, Alice Zoccoli, Bruno Vincenzi, Giuseppe Tonini, Rita Zamarchi, Daniele Santini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Receptor-activator of nuclear-factor –κB-ligand (RANKL) and its receptor RANK have been recently identified as key players in breast cancer bone metastases. Since Circulating Tumor Cells (CTCs) are considered a crucial step of metastatic process, we explored RANK expression on CTCs in metastatic breast cancer (MBC), and the predictive value of RANK-positive CTCs in monitoring patients during treatment with denosumab (anti-RANKL antibody). To this purpose, we developed a novel CTC assay to quantify RANK-positive CTCs in forty-two bone MBC patients, candidates to denosumab treatment. Companion algorithms ΔAUC and Slope were developed, and correlated with time to first skeletal-related-events (SRE), time to bone metastasis progression and time to visceral metastasis progression. Twenty-seven patients had at least one CTC at baseline and, among these, nineteen (70%) had one or more RANK–positive CTCs. Notably, the baseline total CTCs, but not the RANK-positive, were associated with Time-to-first-SRE, Time-to-Bone-Metastasis-Progression and Time-to-Visceral-Metastasis-Progression. Conversely, during treatment monitoring, positive ΔAUC value, expression of RANK-positive CTCs persistence, correlated with longer Time-to-first-SRE (p = 0.0002) and Time-to-Bone-Metastasis-Progression (p = 0.0012). Furthermore, the early increase at second day, in RANK-positive CTCs (Positive-Slope) was associated with delay in time-to-first-SRE (p = 0.0038) and Time-to-Bone-Metastasis-Progression (p = 0.0024). We demonstrate, for the first time, the expression of RANK on CTCs in MBC patients and that the persistence of RANK expression determines denosumab effectiveness.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1288
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
JournalScientific Reports
Volume10
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

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