HER2 molecular subtype is a dominant subtype of mammary Paget's cells. An immunohistochemical study

Histopathology. 2010 Oct;57(4):564-71. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2559.2010.03665.x.


Aims: To test the hypothesis that the similarity of the molecular subtypes of Paget's cells to the molecular subtypes of the underlying breast carcinomas favours the epidermotrophic theory of the origin of Paget's cells.

Methods and results: The immunohistochemical expression of markers that define particular molecular subtypes of breast carcinomas were analysed. The whole analysis was performed by means of tissue microarrays in mammary Paget's disease and in the underlying breast carcinoma(s). Human epidermal growth factor receptor type 2 (HER2)-overexpression subtype [oestrogen receptor (ER(-) ); HER2(+) ] was a dominant molecular subtype of Paget's cells (37 of 43 analysed cases; 86%). Luminal B (ER(+) ; HER2(+) ) and luminal A (ER(+) ; HER(-) ) subtypes were identified in 12% and 2% of cases, respectively. None of the analysed tumours presented a basal-like phenotype. A similar distribution of molecular subtypes was identified in the underlying in situ breast carcinomas (HER2 subtype, 82%; luminal A, 6%; luminal B, 6%; basal-like, 6% of cases) and in the invasive component (HER2 subtype, 84%; luminal A, 8%; luminal B, 8%; basal-like, 0% of cases).

Conclusions: HER2 molecular subtype is the dominant, but not the sole subtype seen in Paget's cells of the nipple. A similar distribution of molecular subtypes in both Paget's cells and in the underlying carcinomas strongly suggests their common origin.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Breast Neoplasms / classification*
  • Breast Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Breast Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Carcinoma, Ductal, Breast / classification
  • Carcinoma, Ductal, Breast / genetics
  • Carcinoma, Ductal, Breast / metabolism
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Paget's Disease, Mammary / classification*
  • Paget's Disease, Mammary / genetics*
  • Paget's Disease, Mammary / metabolism
  • Receptor, ErbB-2 / biosynthesis*
  • Receptor, ErbB-2 / genetics
  • Receptors, Estrogen / biosynthesis
  • Receptors, Estrogen / genetics
  • Tissue Array Analysis


  • Receptors, Estrogen
  • Receptor, ErbB-2