Objectives: Recent studies have shown that some growth factor receptors with tyrosine kinase activity, eg, the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFr) and the c-erbB-2 (HER-2) oncoprotein, are associated with aggressive biologic behavior of various cancer cell types. We examined the clinicopathological significance of the expression and localization of EGFr and HER-2 in both invasive and intraductal components of ductal adenocarcinomas of the pancreas.
Methods: Tissue samples from 76 archival cases of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma were immunohistochemically analyzed for both membrane and cytoplasmic overexpression of EGFr and HER-2 oncoprotein. The rate of incidence between the invasive and intraductal components was analyzed and then their correlation with tumor differentiation and patient prognosis was analyzed.
Results: Cytoplasmic EGFr overexpression was more frequent in invasive components (47 of 76, 62%) than in intraductal components (19 of 76, 25%), while membrane EGFr overexpression was more frequent in intraductal components (41 of 76, 54%) than in invasive components (11 of 76, 14%). The membrane HER-2 overexpression was also more frequent in intraductal components (15 of 76, 20%) than in invasive components (2 of 76, 3%), but the incidence of cytoplasmic HER-2 overexpression did not differ between intraductal components (12 of 76, 16%) and invasive components (8 of 76, 11%). The cytoplasmic EGFr overexpression in invasive components was more frequent in grade 3 group (32 of 33, 97%) than in grade 2 (15 of 32, 47%) and grade 1 groups (0 of 10, 0%) (P < 0.001). Patients with adenocarcinoma with cytoplasmic EGFr overexpression showed shorter overall survival than those with adenocarcinoma without cytoplasmic EGFr overexpression (P = 0.02).
Conclusion: It is suggested that the cytoplasmic overexpression of EGFr plays a significant role in the progression of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma, especially in the invasion and acquisition of aggressive clinical behavior. Both membrane and cytoplasmic expression of HER-2 showed no significant correlation between tumor differentiation and poor survival.