Evaluation of type 1 growth factor receptor family expression in benign and malignant thyroid lesions

Am J Surg. 2008 May;195(5):667-73; discussion 673. doi: 10.1016/j.amjsurg.2008.01.008.


Background: The aim of this study was to evaluate the diagnostic and prognostic utility of the type 1 growth factor receptor family in the management of differentiated thyroid cancer (DTC).

Methods: Tissue microarrays consisting of 100 benign thyroid lesions and 105 malignant thyroid lesions stained for HER1, HER2, HER3, and HER4 were evaluated.

Results: HER1, HER2, HER3, and HER4 were expressed in 76%, 2%, 57%, and 73% of DTC cases, respectively. HER1 and HER3 showed significantly increased expression, and HER4 showed significantly decreased expression, in DTC compared with benign thyroid lesions. HER3 expression correlated with the presence of lymph node metastasis, tumor type, and higher N stage; the expression of HER4 correlated with lower T stage. A classifier targeting benign versus malignant status with all 4 markers as potential predictors displayed an accuracy, sensitivity, and specificity of 66.8%, 63.5%, and 70.0%, respectively.

Conclusions: For DTC, HER1, HER3, and HER4 have diagnostic and prognostic utility, and warrant further study as targets for cancer treatment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / metabolism*
  • ErbB Receptors / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Lymphatic Metastasis
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prognosis
  • Protein Array Analysis
  • Receptor, ErbB-2 / metabolism
  • Receptor, ErbB-3 / metabolism*
  • Receptor, ErbB-4
  • Risk Assessment
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Thyroid Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Thyroid Neoplasms / pathology
  • Thyroid Neoplasms / surgery
  • Thyroidectomy


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • EGFR protein, human
  • ERBB2 protein, human
  • ERBB4 protein, human
  • ErbB Receptors
  • Receptor, ErbB-2
  • Receptor, ErbB-3
  • Receptor, ErbB-4