Background: Anti-Human Epithelial Receptor Type 2 (HER2) antibodies have the ability to induce in vitro apoptosis of glioblastoma (GBM) cells. This study was designed to evaluate the variability of HER2 expression in GBM and its role as a possible prognosis factor.
Methods: Data of 57 patients with GBM and 16 patients with grade III gliomas were retrospectively analyzed. The expression of HER2 was determined by immunohistochemistry and intensity was noted from 0+ to 3+. We compared the HER2 expression in de novo GBM and in GBM resulting from anaplastic transformation of low-grade glioma ("secondary GBM"). Statistical analysis was performed using univariate analysis and the Kaplan-Meier method.
Findings: All GBM expressing highly HER2 (2+ and 3+) were de novo GBM. All secondary GBM expressed HER2 with low intensity (0+ and 1+). Survival time was significantly longer when HER2 expression was low (Log Rank test P = 0.04). The patterns of HER2 expression were similar between grade III gliomas and secondary GBM.
Conclusions: To our best knowledge, our study showed for the first time a significant association between HER2 expression and the type of GBM, with subsequent influence on survival rate. GBM with low-HER2 expression are more likely to be secondary GBM, carrying a better prognosis than de novo GBM.