Standardization of Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor (EGFR) Measurement by Quantitative Immunofluorescence and Impact on Antibody-Based Mutation Detection in Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer

Am J Pathol. 2011 Aug;179(2):580-9. doi: 10.1016/j.ajpath.2011.04.031. Epub 2011 Jun 12.


Challenges in measurement of epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) protein expression have led to conflicting data on its prognostic value and discontinuation of its use for prediction of response. Herein is described a quantitative standardized assay for EGFR and its use in a series of retrospective cohorts of patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). The AQUA technology of quantitative immunofluorescence was used in conjunction with Western blot analysis to calculate the absolute concentration of EGFR in two independent NSCLC cohorts (170 from Yale New Haven Hospital and 335 from Sotiria and Patras Hospitals in Greece). EGFR and mutated EGFR were measured using D38B1 antibody and two mutation-specific antibodies. All patients positive or borderline for mutation-specific antibody were genotyped. A threshold for reproducible detection of EGFR was defined as 0.85 ng/μg total protein. EGFR expression demonstrated no prognostic value in either cohort. The mutation rate was 1.79% in the Yale cohort, and 1.52% in the Sotiria/Patras cohort, with no antibody detection-based false-positive cases. No mutations were detected for EGFR concentrations <1.46 ng/μg total protein. In summary, accurate measurement of EGFR still shows no prognostic value in NSCLC. In these two population-based cohorts, the antibody-based EGFR mutation rate was lower than has been frequently reported.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Blotting, Western
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / metabolism*
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / pathology
  • Cohort Studies
  • DNA Mutational Analysis
  • ErbB Receptors / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic*
  • Genotype
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Lung Neoplasms / pathology
  • Male
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence / methods
  • Middle Aged
  • Mutation
  • Prognosis


  • ErbB Receptors