Quantitative HER2 and p95HER2 levels in primary breast cancers and matched brain metastases

Neuro Oncol. 2015 Sep;17(9):1241-9. doi: 10.1093/neuonc/nov012. Epub 2015 Feb 13.


Background: Patients with advanced breast cancer positive for human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2) are at high risk for brain metastasis (BM). The prevalence and significance of expression of HER2 and its truncated form p95HER2 (p95) in BM is unknown.

Methods: Seventy-five pairs of formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded samples from matched primary breast cancers (PBCs) and BM were assayed for quantitative p95 and HER2-total (H2T) protein expression using the p95 VeraTag and HERmark assays, respectively.

Results: There was a net increase in p95 and H2T expression in BM relative to the matched PBC (median 1.5-fold, P = .0007 and 2.1-fold, P < .0001, respectively). Cases with H2T-positive tumors were more likely to have the largest (≥5-fold) increase in p95 (odds ratio = 6.3, P = .018). P95 positivity in PBC correlated with progression-free survival (hazard ratio [HR] = 2.2, P = .013), trended with shorter time to BM (HR = 1.8, P = .070), and correlated with overall survival (HR = 2.1, P = .042). P95 positivity in BM correlated with time to BM (HR = 2.0, P = .016) but did not correlate with overall survival from the time of BM diagnosis (HR = 1.2, P = .61).

Conclusions: This is the first study of quantitative p95 and HER2 expression in matched PBC and BM. BM of breast cancer shows significant increases in expression of both biomarkers compared with matched PBC. These data provide a rationale for future correlative studies on p95 and HER2 levels in BM.

Keywords: HER2; brain metastasis; breast cancer; p95.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Brain Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Brain Neoplasms / mortality
  • Brain Neoplasms / secondary
  • Breast Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Breast Neoplasms / mortality
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology
  • Disease-Free Survival
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Receptor, ErbB-2 / metabolism*


  • ERBB2 protein, human
  • Receptor, ErbB-2