Date of publication: June 17, 2013
Among women with triple-negative breast cancer, high levels of an enzyme known as CD73 appear to reduce the activity of anthracycline chemotherapy. Development of drugs that block this enzyme could improve treatment effectiveness and breast cancer prognosis. These results were published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
CD73 is an enzyme that suppresses certain types of immune responses. High levels of this enzyme have been found in several types of cancer. To explore CD73 in women with breast cancer, researchers evaluated patterns of gene expression in tumor tissue from more than 6,000 women.
- Higher levels of CD73 were linked with worse prognosis among women with triple-negative breast cancer, but not among women with other types of breast cancer. The relationship between CD73 and prognosis persisted even after accounting for factors such as lymph node involvement, tumor size, and age.
- Further analyses suggested that high CD73 contributed to resistance to anthracycline chemotherapy.
- In mouse studies, blocking CD73 contributed to a higher rate of response to chemotherapy and longer survival.
Although this research is still at an early stage, it suggests that CD73 could play a role in treatment effectiveness and prognosis among women with triple-negative breast cancer. If this is the case, the development of drugs that block this enzyme could improve treatment outcomes.