Immunohistochemical evaluation of HER-2/neu expression in pancreatic adenocarcinoma and pancreatic intraepithelial neoplasms

Hum Pathol. 1996 Feb;27(2):119-24. doi: 10.1016/s0046-8177(96)90364-0.


Although several morphological and molecular genetic studies have implicated various grades of pancreatic duct hyperplasia as precursor lesions to infiltrating pancreatic adenocarcinoma, the identity of preinvasive pancreatic neoplasms remains controversial. In the present study, the authors examined the expression of the epidermal growth factor receptor homologue, HER-2/neu (c-erbB-2), in pancreatic duct lesions adjacent to infiltrating pancreas cancers in a series of 19 cases of pancreatic duct adenocarcinoma. HER-2/neu expression was examined because it has been identified in a proportion of infiltrating pancreas cancers and because it may provide early neoplasms with a growth advantage over adjacent nonneoplastic epithelium. In normal pancreatic ducts and ductules, HER-2/neu expression was absent in all but one case. By contrast, HER-2/neu was expressed in 82% (P = .008 vs normal ) of ducts with flat mucinous hyperplasia, 86% (P = .03 vs normal) of ducts with papillary mucinous hyperplasia without atypia, 92% (P = .001 vs normal) of ducts with atypical papillary mucinous hyperplasia, and all specimens with carcinoma in situ. HER-2/neu expression was observed in 69% (P = .002 vs normal) of the moderately differentiated infiltrating carcinomas and none of the poorly differentiated infiltrating carcinomas. These data establish HER-2/neu as a potential mediator of growth factor-related signal transduction in pancreatic duct lesions, and provide additional support for the hypothesis that lesions formerly regarded as various grades of hyperplasia instead may represent intraepithelial neoplasms with the potential for subsequent invasion and metastasis.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma / chemistry*
  • Adenocarcinoma / pathology
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Carcinoma in Situ / chemistry*
  • Carcinoma in Situ / pathology
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Middle Aged
  • Pancreatic Ducts / chemistry
  • Pancreatic Ducts / pathology
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / chemistry*
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / pathology
  • Receptor, ErbB-2 / analysis*
  • Signal Transduction


  • Receptor, ErbB-2