HER-2/neu expression in archival non-small cell lung carcinomas using FDA-approved Hercep test

Anticancer Res. May-Jun 2000;20(3B):2091-6.


HER-2/neu is a 185 kDa glycoprotein related to the epidermal growth factor receptor. Overexpressed in 25-30% of primary breast carcinomas, HER-2/neu is associated with a poor clinical outcome. Recently the FDA approved an antibody to HER-2/neu, trastuzumab (Herceptin), for the treatment of HER-2/neu overexpressing metastatic breast cancers. Relatively little is known about HER-2/neu status and lung cancers. We reasoned that if HER-2/neu status could be ascertained in non-small cell lung carcinomas (NSCLCs), and a clinical correlation can be established, a rationale for the use of Herceptin in this tumor type could be established. Using a FDA-approved standardized diagnostic kit, HercepTest, for detection of HER-2/neu in clinical specimens, we examined the expression of HER-2/neu in NSCLCs in archival paraffin-embedded specimens (N = 81). In normal epithelium, HER-2/neu expression was not detected in a majority of samples (74/81). HER-2/neu overexpression was detected in 27% of the tumors of different histological types including adenocarcinomas, large cell carcinomas, and squamous cell carcinomas. Poor to moderately differentiated, but not well differentiated tumors showed overexpression of HER-2/neu. The specificity of HercepTest was further increased (from 27% to 21%) when the expression in the few normal tissues was subtracted from the tumor score. HER-2/neu may offer an attractive predictive and prognostic factor for NSCLC.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma / chemistry
  • Adenocarcinoma / genetics
  • Adenocarcinoma / pathology
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / immunology*
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / analysis*
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / biosynthesis
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / genetics
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / immunology
  • Carcinoma, Large Cell / chemistry
  • Carcinoma, Large Cell / genetics
  • Carcinoma, Large Cell / pathology
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / chemistry*
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / genetics
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / pathology
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / chemistry
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / genetics
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / pathology
  • Evaluation Studies as Topic
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic*
  • Genes, erbB-2*
  • Humans
  • Immunoenzyme Techniques*
  • Lung Neoplasms / chemistry*
  • Lung Neoplasms / genetics
  • Lung Neoplasms / pathology
  • Neoplasm Proteins / analysis*
  • Neoplasm Proteins / biosynthesis
  • Neoplasm Proteins / genetics
  • Neoplasm Proteins / immunology
  • Paraffin Embedding
  • Reagent Kits, Diagnostic*
  • Receptor, ErbB-2 / analysis*
  • Receptor, ErbB-2 / biosynthesis
  • Receptor, ErbB-2 / immunology
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Trastuzumab


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized
  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Neoplasm Proteins
  • Reagent Kits, Diagnostic
  • Receptor, ErbB-2
  • Trastuzumab