Introduction: The immune microenvironment of high-risk HR+ breast cancer (BC) is poorly understood. BEAUTY is a prospective neoadjuvant chemotherapy (NAC) study of stage I-III BC patients treated with neoadjuvant weekly taxane followed by anthracycline-based chemotherapy. Among clinical luminal B BC (St. Gallen criteria) from BEAUTY, we used high-plex digital spatial profiling (DSP) to characterize the intra-epithelial tumor and stromal immune landscapes to 1) assess the impact of NAC on these landscapes and 2) identify immune biomarkers predictive of response to NAC. Methods: The tissue set included FFPE sections of resected tumors from 35 patients (median 51y; range: 21-71y) with clinically-defined luminal B BC (ER > 10%/grade 2/Ki67 ≥ 15% or ER > 10%/grade 3), and 16 paired pre-NAC biopsies. Nanostring GeoMX DSP was used to quantitate 58 immune and BC biomarker proteins in intra-epithelial, cytokeratin-positive tumor segments and adjacent stromal (cytokeratin-negative/SYTO13 (nuclear stain)-positive) segments. Data were normalized using the geometric mean of two negative controls (RbIgG and MsIgG1). A general linear model with negative binomial identified differentially-expressed (DE) proteins in pre/post-NAC tumors. Based on DE protein data and biologic function, a targeted protein subset (N=19) was evaluated in pre-NAC biopsies for associations between protein abundance and residual cancer burden (RCB) class (0-II vs. III) (Wilcoxon-rank sum test: p-value < 0.025 considered significant) or RCB ‘breast only’ index (Spearman correlation). Results: Comparing tumor segments in pre-NAC specimens, intra-epithelial segments were predictably enriched in cytokeratin, ER, PR and Ki-67, but also CD127 and NY-ESO-1; whereas stromal segments were enriched in proteins associated with T cell subsets (e.g. CD3, CD4, CD8), macrophages (CD68 and CD163), antigen presentation/dendritic cells (CD11c, HLA-DR) and immune checkpoint proteins (PD-L1, PD-L2, B7-H3, TIM-3, VISTA) among others. While NAC did not alter the spatial distribution of proteins (intra-epithelial vs. stromal segments), it markedly attenuated the immune landscape, with decreased abundance of functionally-diverse immune proteins (e.g. CD45, CD3, CD4, CD127, granzyme B, CTLA4; STING, B7-H3, CD11c, and CD68, log2FC: 0.27-1.52 p < 0.05), including low abundance proteins PD-1, PD-L1, PD-L2, CD20, and OX40L (log 2FC: 0.15-1.16, p < 0.05). Both PR and Ki-67 decreased in post-NAC tumors whereas ER was not significantly altered (p < 0.05). CD8, CD14, CD163, HLA-DR, IDO-1 and TIM-3 were not significantly altered by NAC. In the pre-NAC biopsies (which had subsequent residual tumor burdens of RCB class 0 or I (n=1 each), II (n=6), and III (n=8), and median RCB ‘breast only’ index of 3.39 (range: 0.00-38.02), 19 proteins were used for RCB analysis (CD3, CD4, CD8, CD14, CD34, CD44, CD45, CD68, CD127, CD163, CTLA4, granzyme B, STING, B7-H3, fibronectin, Ki-67, HLA-DR, SMA and TIM3). Among them, stromal CD127 was significantly higher in RCB class III than RCB class 0-II (p=0.021) and RCB ‘breast only’ index was positively correlated with intra-epithelial granzyme B (rho = 0.61; p=0.012), and negatively correlated with intra-epithelial Ki-67 (rho= -0.71; p=0.0022). Conclusion: In this series of clinical luminal B BC, NAC markedly attenuated the tumoral immune landscapes with a small set of “NAC-resistant” immune proteins. Among a targeted set, stromal CD127 was significantly higher in RCB III, and RCB breast-only index was positively correlated with intra-epithelial granzyme B. These data provide insight into the impact of NAC on HR+ BC, and identify potential immune biomarkers to predict response to neoadjuvant chemotherapy.

Citation Format: Jodi M Carter, Judy C Boughey, Jun He, Vera J Suman, Xue Wang, Jennifer M Kachergus, Krishna R Kalari, Liewei Wang, Richard Weinshilboum, Ann M Moyer, Sarah A McLaughlin, Alvaro Moreno-Aspitia, Donald W Northfelt, Richard J Gray, James N Ingle, E. Aubrey Thompson, Matthew P Goetz. Neoadjuvant chemotherapy selectively alters spatially-defined immune landscapes in clinical luminal B HR+/HER2- breast cancers: Analysis of the breast cancer genome guided therapy study (BEAUTY) [abstract]. In: Proceedings of the 2020 San Antonio Breast Cancer Virtual Symposium; 2020 Dec 8-11; San Antonio, TX. Philadelphia (PA): AACR; Cancer Res 2021;81(4 Suppl):Abstract nr PD7-05.