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This article is the author's final published version in npj Precision Oncology, Volume 7, Issue 1, 2023, Article number 18.

The published version is available at Copyright © The Author(s) 2023.


Endocrine therapy (ET) in combination with CDK4/6 inhibition is routinely used as first-line treatment for HR+/HER2− metastatic breast cancer (MBC) patients. However, 30–40% of patients quickly develop disease progression. In this open-label multicenter clinical trial, we utilized a hypothesis-driven protein/phosphoprotein-based approach to identify predictive markers of response to ET plus CDK4/6 inhibition in pre-treatment tissue biopsies. Pathway-centered signaling profiles were generated from microdissected tumor epithelia and surrounding stroma/immune cells using the reverse phase protein microarray. Phosphorylation levels of the CDK4/6 downstream substrates Rb (S780) and FoxM1 (T600) were higher in patients with progressive disease (PD) compared to responders (p = 0.02). Systemic PI3K/AKT/mTOR activation in tumor epithelia and stroma/immune cells was detected in patients with PD. This activation was not explained by underpinning genomic alterations alone. As the number of FDA-approved targeted compounds increases, functional protein-based signaling analyses may become a critical component of response prediction and treatment selection for MBC patients.

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