Evaluation of HER-2/neu expression in prostatic adenocarcinoma: a requested for a standardized, organ specific methodology

Cancer. 2002 Oct 15;95(8):1650-5. doi: 10.1002/cncr.10839.


Background: Some evidence suggests a role for HER-2/neu overexpression in prostate carcinoma progression. Reported rates of HER-2/neu overexpression in patients with prostate carcinoma vary greatly.

Methods: The authors studied radical prostatectomy specimens from 38 patients who had biochemical failure after undergoing radical prostatectomy for prostate carcinoma. Immunohistochemistry for HER-2/neu overexpression using the HercepTest kit (Dako Corporation, Carpenteria, CA) was employed. Two different antigen-retrieval techniques were used: 1) the standard U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved HercepTest assay and 2) a modified HercepTest, which employed an alkaline citrate buffer, pH 9.0, for antigen retrieval and a 1-hour primary antibody incubation time. The level of HER-2/neu expression was evaluated on a scale from 0 (no staining) to 3+ according to the published guidelines. Fluorescent in situ hybridization for gene amplification was performed on all specimens.

Results: With the standard technique, only one specimen had 2+ staining, and no specimens had 3+ staining. With the modified technique, 10 specimens (26%) had 2+ staining, and 9 specimens (24%) had 3+ staining. There was a significant association between the level of HER-2/neu expression shown with the modified technique and tumor stage (P = 0.03) as well as Gleason grade (P = 0.01). None of the specimens had HER-2/neu gene amplification.

Conclusions: The authors report a simple modification of the HercepTest that resulted in an increased rate of HER-2/neu expression, which was correlated with poor-risk pathologic findings. The findings suggest that adenocarcinoma of the prostate should be evaluated for HER-2/neu expression with a prostate specific immunohistochemical procedure that differs from the FDA-approved standard procedure.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma / genetics*
  • Adenocarcinoma / pathology*
  • Aged
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic*
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry / methods
  • In Situ Hybridization, Fluorescence
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local
  • Neoplasm Staging*
  • Prognosis
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Receptor, ErbB-2 / analysis*
  • Receptor, ErbB-2 / biosynthesis*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Risk Factors
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Specimen Handling
  • United States
  • United States Food and Drug Administration


  • Receptor, ErbB-2