Introduction. Breast cancers that metastasize to the central nervous system (BrM) and progress to leptomeningeal disease (LMD) are commonly HER2 amplified. Triple negative breast cancer (TNBC) also may also acquire HER2 amplification and/or copy number changes (HER2+) in BrM and LMD due to genetic heterogeneity. LMD has a dismal prognosis if untreated, but advances in anti-HER2 therapy have been highly effective for improving outcomes in patients with HER2+ LMD. Current methods for evaluating HER2 status in LMD are extremely limited. Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) cytology is of limited sensitivity with poor cellular yield and preservation due to technical artifacts of preparation that severely limit evaluation of HER2 by FISH or IHC. We evaluated the ability of CNSide™ to selectively enrich CSF tumor cells (CSF-TCs) and assess HER2 gene amplification or copy number gain in breast cancer patients with LMD. Methods. CSF specimens from 77 unique breast cancer patients with suspected LMD were collected using CEE-Sure™ CSF collection tubes and analyzed using the CNSide assay, both produced by Biocept, Inc (San Diego CA). CSF tumor cells (CSF-TCs) stabilized at ambient temperature in CEE-Sure for shipping. In the CLIA laboratory CSF-TCs are labeled using a proprietary mouse anti-human antibody cocktail with secondary biotinylated anti-mouse Ig. All CSF cells are then captured in a streptavidin-coated micro-fluidic channel and fluorescently labeled with DAPI, streptavidin, keratin and CD45 to discriminate nucleated CSF-TCs that are SA+ and cytokeratin+, but CD45 negative. CSF-TCs are digitally imaged, localized and counted with specific X-Y coordinates in the channel that allow further characterization of the HER2 status of each cell using FISH probes for centromere 17 and HER2. Results. Of 77 unique patient CSF specimens, 74.0% (57/77) demonstrated the presence of metastatic tumor cells (defined as cells which were DAPI positive, streptavidin positive, and CD45 negative). HER2 cells ranged from fewer than 10 cells to tens of thousands of cells recovered from a single collection tube of CSF. Of the 57 specimens in which malignant cells were identified, 56.1% (32/57) demonstrated HER2 amplification by FISH (defined as HER2:CEP17 ≥ 2.0 or ≥ 6 HER2 signals) and 43.9% (25/57) did not demonstrate HER2 amplification by FISH. Ten (10) patients also had polysomy of chromosome 17 as well as other gene alterations. Conclusion: HER2 amplification is frequently found in breast cancer patients with LMD and can be reliably detected in tumor cells isolated from CSF. Evaluation of HER2 status in CSF-TCs allows treating physicians the opportunity to rapidly confirm the presence of this biomarker and select a more effective targeted therapy against HER2 in patients who present with life-threatening complications of breast cancer. Additional studies are needed to fully establish the clinical utility of CNSide when using various anti-HER2 therapies or therapy combinations to treat breast cancer patients with LMD.
Citation Format: Michael Dugan, Deanna Fisher, Nathan Sweed, Barbara Blouw, Julie Mayer. Characterization of HER2 amplification in the cerebrospinal fluid of patients with Leptomeningeal Disease in stage IV patients with breast cancer [abstract]. In: Proceedings of the 2021 San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium; 2021 Dec 7-10; San Antonio, TX. Philadelphia (PA): AACR; Cancer Res 2022;82(4 Suppl):Abstract nr PD4-03.