PURPOSE - Although breast cancers are known to be molecularly heterogeneous, their metabolic phenotype is less well-understood and may predict response to chemotherapy. This study aimed to evaluate metabolic genes as individual predictive biomarkers in breast cancer.
EXPERIMENTAL DESIGN - mRNA microarray data from breast cancer cell lines were used to identify bimodal genes-those with highest potential for robust high/low classification in clinical assays. Metabolic function was evaluated in vitro for the highest scoring metabolic gene, lactate dehydrogenase B (LDHB). Its expression was associated with neoadjuvant chemotherapy response and relapse within clinical and PAM50-derived subtypes.
RESULTS - LDHB was highly expressed in cell lines with glycolytic, basal-like phenotypes. Stable knockdown of LDHB in cell lines reduced glycolytic dependence, linking LDHB expression directly to metabolic function. Using patient datasets, LDHB was highly expressed in basal-like cancers and could predict basal-like subtype within clinical groups [OR = 21 for hormone receptor (HR)-positive/HER2-negative; OR = 10 for triple-negative]. Furthermore, high LDHB predicted pathologic complete response (pCR) to neoadjuvant chemotherapy for both HR-positive/HER2-negative (OR = 4.1, P < 0.001) and triple-negative (OR = 3.0, P = 0.003) cancers. For triple-negative tumors without pCR, high LDHB posttreatment also identified proliferative tumors with increased risk of recurrence (HR = 2.2, P = 0.006).
CONCLUSIONS - Expression of LDHB predicted response to neoadjuvant chemotherapy within clinical subtypes independently of standard prognostic markers and PAM50 subtyping. These observations support prospective clinical evaluation of LDHB as a predictive marker of response for patients with breast cancer receiving neoadjuvant chemotherapy.