HER-2/neu oncogene expression and proliferation in breast cancers

Am J Pathol. 1990 Jul;137(1):103-11.


Amplification of the HER-2/neu proto-oncogene in breast cancer has been reported to correlate with poor patient prognosis. The proliferation, or growth fraction, of cells has also been shown to be of prognostic importance in breast cancer. A study was conducted to evaluate the correlation between HER-2/neu gene expression and proliferation in breast cancer. Quantitative immunohistochemical methods for the detection of the HER-2/neu protein expression and for assessing the proliferation fraction on frozen sections of tumor cells were used. The detection of epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) along with quantitative DNA ploidy analysis, also was performed on the same breast cancers. The results indicated two subgroups of invasive ductal carcinoma; 1) HER-2/neu overexpressing cases that were negative for EGFR expression and had low proliferation fraction, and a tetraploid DNA pattern (22 cases), and 2) other combinations of HER-2/neu expression and EGFR expression, with a high proliferation fraction and an aneuploid DNA pattern (38 cases). Eight cases of carcinoma in situ were positive for HER-2/neu overexpression and negative for EGFR expression, and had a high proliferation fraction and a tetraploid DNA pattern. Twenty-six cases of low-grade carcinoma exhibited low proliferation and a diploid DNA pattern.

MeSH terms

  • Breast Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology
  • Cell Division
  • DNA, Neoplasm / analysis
  • ErbB Receptors / analysis
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins / genetics*
  • Proto-Oncogenes*
  • Receptor, ErbB-2


  • DNA, Neoplasm
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins
  • ErbB Receptors
  • Receptor, ErbB-2