PURPOSE: The mTOR complex C1 (mTORC1) inhibitor everolimus in combination with the aromatase inhibitor exemestane is an effective treatment for patients with hormone receptor-positive (HR+), HER2-negative (HER2-), advanced breast cancer (HR+/HER2- aBC). However, everolimus can cause hyperglycemia and hyperinsulinemia, which could reactivate the PI3K/protein kinase B (AKT)/mTORC1 pathway and induce tumor resistance to everolimus.
EXPERIMENTAL DESIGN: We conducted a multicenter, retrospective, Italian study to investigate the impact of baseline and on-treatment (i.e., during first 3 months of therapy) blood glucose levels on progression-free survival (PFS) in patients with HR+/HER2- aBC treated with everolimus-exemestane.
RESULTS: We evaluated 809 patients with HR+/HER2- aBC treated with everolimus-exemestane as any line of therapy for advanced disease. When evaluated as dichotomous variables, baseline and on-treatment glycemia were not significantly associated with PFS. However, when blood glucose concentration was evaluated as a continuous variable, a multivariable model accounting for clinically relevant patient- and tumor-related variables revealed that both baseline and on-treatment glycemia are associated with PFS, and this association is largely attributable to their interaction. In particular, patients who are normoglycemic at baseline and experience on-treatment diabetes have lower PFS compared with patients who are already hyperglycemic at baseline and experience diabetes during everolimus-exemestane therapy (median PFS, 6.34 vs. 10.32 months; HR, 1.76; 95% confidence interval, 1.15-2.69; P = 0.008).
CONCLUSIONS: The impact of on-treatment glycemia on the efficacy of everolimus-exemestane therapy in patients with HR+/HER2- aBC depends on baseline glycemia. This study lays the foundations for investigating novel therapeutic approaches to target the glucose/insulin axis in combination with PI3K/AKT/mTORC1 inhibitors in patients with HR+/HER2- aBC.