Circulating immune cell dynamics in patients with triple negative breast cancer treated with neoadjuvant chemotherapy

Sarah Talamantes, Eric Xie, Ricardo L.B. Costa, Melissa Chen, Alfred Rademaker, Cesar A. Santa-Maria*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Background: Lymphopenia has been associated with inferior cancer outcomes, but there is limited data in breast cancer. We describe the effects of neoadjuvant chemotherapy on circulating immune cells and its association with pathological complete response (pCR) rates in triple negative breast cancer (TNBC). Methods: We constructed a database of patients with early stage TNBC treated with neoadjuvant chemotherapy. Circulating lymphocytes and monocytes were assessed before and after neoadjuvant chemotherapy. These were correlated with pCR rates and disease-free survival (DFS) using Fisher's exact test, logistic regression, and the log-rank test. Results: From 2000 to 2015, we identified 95 eligible patients. Median age was 50; 29 (31%) were treated with platinum-containing chemotherapy; and 66 (69%) with nonplatinum-containing chemotherapy (anthracycline-taxane, or either alone). About 32 (34%) patients achieved a pCR; and 33 (35%) had recurrence events. Median follow-up time was 47 months. No significant associations were found between changes in lymphocytes and pCR or DFS. There was a correlation between lower monocyte levels after neoadjuvant chemotherapy and pCR (mean monocyte 0.56 in those with no-pCR vs 0.46 in those with pCR, P =.049, multivariate P =.078) and DFS (median DFS in highest monocyte quartile was 30 vs 107 months in lowest quartile, P =.022, multivariate P =.023). In patients who received nonplatinum regimens, DFS was better among those who had larger decreases in monocytes. Conclusions: Development of lymphopenia from neoadjuvant chemotherapy was not associated with pCR in patients with TNBC. However, lower absolute circulating monocytes after neoadjuvant chemotherapy was associated with improved outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6954-6960
Number of pages7
JournalCancer medicine
Issue number19
StatePublished - Oct 1 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • circulating immune biomarkers
  • lymphocytes
  • monocytes
  • neoadjuvant chemotherapy
  • triple negative breast cancer

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Cancer Research


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