The neu-protein and breast cancer

Virchows Arch. 1995;426(2):107-15. doi: 10.1007/BF00192631.


The neu-protein is overexpressed in about 20% of invasive duct cell carcinomas of the breast. The only reliable sign for neu-overexpression by immunohistochemistry is membrane staining. Its overexpression is correlated with decreased overall survival and disease free survival due to increased metastatic activity of neu-overexpressing tumour cells. This increased metastatic potential is a consequence of the motility enhancing activity of the neu-protein, which is exclusively expressed on pseudopodia, and to a lesser extent of its growth stimulating effect. From a clinical point of view, the assessment of neu-overexpression in breast cancer might become a useful tool in the future treatment of patients by chemotherapy, since patients whose tumour shows neu-overexpression benefit from higher doses of chemotherapy. The molecule plays a key role in the pathogenesis of Paget's disease of the breast. A chemotactic factor which is secreted by epidermal keratinocytes attracts the Paget cells to spread into the epidermis and acts via the neu-protein. In ductal carcinoma in situ, the combination of neu-overexpression and large cell type is highly correlated with extent of disease and therefore neu-overexpression might be a predictive marker for recurrence of disease after tumour resection.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Breast Neoplasms / chemistry*
  • Breast Neoplasms / mortality
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology
  • Carcinoma / chemistry
  • Carcinoma in Situ / chemistry
  • Humans
  • Paget's Disease, Mammary / chemistry
  • Receptor, ErbB-2 / analysis*
  • Receptor, ErbB-2 / physiology


  • Receptor, ErbB-2