Background: The HER-2/neu oncogene encodes for a transmembrane glycoprotein with intracellular tyrosine kinase activity. The HER-2/neu receptor belongs to the family of epidermal growth factor receptors that are crucial in the activation of subcellular signal transduction pathways controlling epithelial cell growth and differentiation. Overexpression of HER-2/neu is observed in 20% to 40% of breast cancers and other solid tumors. Although information is limited, one study suggested that 15% of glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) express HER-2/neu by immunohistochemistry (IHC); gene amplification by fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) was not investigated. Studies in this area are potentially significant owing to the role of recombinant monoclonal anti-HER-2/neu antibody traztuzumab (Herceptin) in the treatment of tumors.
Design: A retrospective clinicopathologic review of 49 patients with GBM with HER-2/neu IHC staining and HER-2/neu gene amplification by FISH was performed.
Results: The study included 44 patients (17 women, 27 men; age range 20 to 79 y, mean 57.9 y). Initial surgery involved tumor debulking or subtotal resection in 34 patients. Thirty-six patients received adjuvant radiation therapy and 19 patients received adjuvant chemotherapy. At follow-up (range 1.0 to 49.5 mo, mean 10.5 mo), 40 patients died with tumor and 4 patients were lost to follow-up. All tumors were negative for HER-2/neu protein by IHC and for HER-2/neu gene amplification by FISH.
Conclusions: No GBM demonstrates HER-2/neu protein by IHC or amplification of the HER-2/neu gene by FISH. The HER-2/neu oncogene does not seem to play a role in the pathogenesis of GBM.