Increased circulating resistin levels in early-onset breast cancer patients of normal body mass index correlate with lymph node negative involvement and longer disease free survival: a multi-center POSH cohort serum proteomics study.

09 Apr 2018

BACKGROUND: Early-onset breast cancer (EOBC) affects about one in 300 women aged 40 years or younger and is associated with worse outcomes than later onset breast cancer. This study explored novel serum proteins as surrogate markers of prognosis in patients with EOBC. METHODS: Serum samples from EOBC patients (stages 1-3) were analysed using agnostic high-precision quantitative proteomics. Patients received anthracycline-based chemotherapy. The discovery cohort (n = 399) either had more than 5-year disease-free survival (DFS) (good outcome group, n = 203) or DFS of less than 2 years (poor outcome group, n = 196). Expressed proteins were assessed for differential expression between the two groups. Bioinformatics pathway and network analysis in combination with literature research were used to determine clinically relevant proteins. ELISA analysis against an independent sample set from the Prospective study of Outcomes in Sporadic versus Hereditary breast cancer (POSH) cohort (n = 181) was used to validate expression levels of the selected target. Linear and generalized linear modelling was applied to determine the effect of target markers, body mass index (BMI), lymph node involvement (LN), oestrogen receptor (ER), progesterone receptor and human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 status on patients' outcome. RESULTS: A total of 5346 unique proteins were analysed (peptide FDR p ≤ 0.05). Of these, 812 were differentially expressed in the good vs poor outcome groups and showed significant enrichment for the insulin signalling (p = 0.01) and the glycolysis/gluconeogenesis (p = 0.01) pathways. These proteins further correlated with interaction networks involving glucose and fatty acid metabolism. A consistent nodal protein to these metabolic networks was resistin (upregulated in the good outcome group, p = 0.009). ELISA validation demonstrated resistin to be upregulated in the good outcome group (p = 0.04), irrespective of BMI and ER status. LN involvement was the only covariate with a significant association with resistin measurements (p = 0.004). An ancillary in-silico observation was the induction of the inflammatory response, leucocyte infiltration, lymphocyte migration and recruitment of phagocytes (p < 0.0001, z-score > 2). Survival analysis showed that resistin overexpression was associated with improved DFS. CONCLUSIONS: Higher circulating resistin correlated with node-negative patients and longer DFS independent of BMI and ER status in women with EOBC. Overexpression of serum resistin in EOBC may be a surrogate indicator of improved prognosis.