Tumor Biomarkers and Efficacy in Patients Treated With Trastuzumab Emtansine + Pertuzumab Versus Standard of Care in HER2-Positive Early Breast Cancer

An Open-label, Phase III Study (KRISTINE)

Sanne L. de Haas; Dennis J. Slamon; Miguel Martin; Michael F. Press; Gail D. Lewis; Chiara Lambertini; Aleix Prat; Vanesa Lopez-Valverde; Thomas Boulet; Sara A. Hurvitz


Breast Cancer Res. 2023;25(2) 

In This Article

Abstract and Introduction


Background: KRISTINE is an open-label, phase III study of trastuzumab emtansine + pertuzumab (T-DM1 + P) versus docetaxel + carboplatin + trastuzumab + pertuzumab (TCH + P) in patients with HER2-positive, stage II–III breast cancer. We investigated the association of biomarkers with clinical outcomes in KRISTINE.

Methods: Patients were randomized to receive neoadjuvant T-DM1 + P or TCH + P and assessed for pathologic complete response (pCR; ypT0/is, ypN0). HER2 status (per central assessment), hormone receptor status, PIK3CA mutation status, HER2/HER3 mRNA levels, tumor-infiltrating lymphocyte levels, PD-L1 status, and NanoString data were analyzed. pCR rates by treatment arm were compared across biomarker subgroups. Analyses were descriptive.

Results: Biomarker analyses included data from all 444 patients (T-DM1 + P, n = 223; TCH + P, n = 221) enrolled in KRISTINE. Biomarker distribution was balanced across treatment arms. All subgroups with higher HER2 amplification/expression and immune marker levels showed numerically higher pCR rates in both arms. Mutated versus non-mutated PIK3CA tumors were associated with numerically lower pCR rates in the T-DM1 + P arm but not in the TCH + P arm. In a multivariate analysis, Prediction Analysis of Microarray with the 50-gene classifier (PAM50) HER2-enriched subtype, HER2 gene ratio ≥ 4, and PD-L1-positive status positively influenced the pCR rate. Biomarkers associated with lower pCR rates (e.g., low HER2 levels, positive hormone receptor status, mutated PIK3CA) were more likely to co-occur. Dynamic on-treatment biomarker changes were observed. Differences in the treatment effects for T-DM1 + P versus TCH + P were similar to those observed in the intent-to-treat population for the majority of the biomarker subgroups.

Conclusions: Although our biomarker analysis did not identify a subgroup of patients that benefited from neoadjuvant T-DM1 + P versus TCH + P, the data revealed that patients with higher HER2 amplification/expression and immune marker levels had improved response irrespective of treatment arm. These analyses confirm the role of HER2 tumor biology and the immune microenvironment in influencing pCR in the neoadjuvant setting and reaffirm the molecular diversity of HER2-positive breast cancer.

Trial Registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT02131064. Registered 06 May 2014.