We aimed to analyze to what extent expression of four cell cycle regulation markers—minichromosome maintenance protein (MCM2), Ki-67, cyclin A, and phosphohistone-H3 (PHH3)—predict response to primary systemic therapy in terms of pathological complete remission (pCR). In search of an accurate and reproducible scoring method, we compared computer-assisted (CA) and routine visual assessment (VA) of immunoreactivity. We included 57 patients with breast cancer in the study. The cell cycle markers were detected using immunohistochemistry on pre-therapy core biopsy samples. Parallel CA (validated by manual labeling) and standard VA were performed and compared for diagnostic agreement and predictive value for pCR. CA and VA results were dichotomized based on receiver operating characteristic analysis defined optimal cut-off values. “High” was defined by staining scores above the optimal cut-off, while “low” had staining scores below the optimal cut-off. The CA method resulted in significantly lower values for Ki-67 and MCM2 compared to VA (mean difference, −3.939 and −4.323). Diagnostic agreement was highest for cyclin A and PHH3 (−0.586 and −0.666, respectively). Regardless of the method (CA/VA) used, all tested markers were predictive of pCR. Optimal cut-off-based dichotomization improved diagnostic agreement between the CA and VA methods for every marker, in particular for MCM2 (κ = 1, p <0.000). Cyclin A displayed excellent agreement (κ = 0.925; p <0.000), while Ki-67 and PHH3 showed good agreement (κ = 0.789, p <0.000 and κ = 0.794, p <0.000, respectively). We found all cell cycle markers (Ki-67, MCM2, cyclin A, and PHH3) predictive of pCR. Diagnostic agreement between CA and VA was better at lower staining scores but improved after optimal cut-off-based dichotomization.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pathology and Forensic Medicine
- Cell Biology
- Molecular Biology