Gene amplification and overexpression of HER2 in renal cell carcinoma

BJU Int. 2002 Jan;89(1):5-9.


Objective: To determine the frequency of HER2 genetic abnormalities in renal cell carcinoma (RCC) and hence assess the potential suitability of Herceptin immunotherapy.

Patients and methods: Tumours from 27 patients with RCC were assessed; all patients had undergone nephrectomy. Benign renal tissue from the nephrectomy specimens was studied in seven patients. Gene amplification was assessed using fluorescent in-situ hybridization, and protein over-expression using immunohistochemistry.

Results: Twenty-four patients had clear cell renal carcinoma, two had papillary renal carcinoma and one a sarcomatoid variant carcinoma. There was no HER2 amplification in the tumours or the benign renal tissue. Polysomy 17 was detected in 11 of 27 tumours (41%) and increased HER2 copy number in seven (26%). Both polysomy 17 and increased HER2 copy number were absent in the benign renal tissue. Three tumours (11%) and six of the seven benign renal tissue samples over-expressed the HER2 protein.

Conclusions: HER2 amplification is absent and protein over-expression uncommon in RCC. This casts doubt on the suitability of Herceptin in the treatment of RCC.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / therapeutic use
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Carcinoma, Papillary / genetics*
  • Carcinoma, Papillary / metabolism
  • Carcinoma, Papillary / therapy
  • Carcinoma, Renal Cell / genetics*
  • Carcinoma, Renal Cell / metabolism
  • Carcinoma, Renal Cell / therapy
  • Chromosomes, Human, Pair 17 / genetics
  • Female
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique / methods
  • Gene Amplification
  • Gene Expression
  • Genes, erbB-2 / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry / methods
  • Kidney Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Kidney Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Kidney Neoplasms / therapy
  • Male
  • Receptor, ErbB-2 / metabolism*
  • Trastuzumab


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized
  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Receptor, ErbB-2
  • Trastuzumab