Epidermal growth factor receptor and c-erbB-2 expression in normal breast tissue during the menstrual cycle

Breast Cancer Res Treat. 1996;38(2):227-35. doi: 10.1007/BF01806677.


EGF receptor (EGF-R) and c-erbB-2 are homologous tyrosine kinase transmembrane receptors. They are involved in controlling proliferation, and probably differentiation, of normal breast epithelial cells, and their expression has been linked to the prognosis of breast cancer. Their physiological roles in normal breast tissue remain to be elucidated, as most studies to date have involved breast cancer cell lines. We studied the location of EGF-R and c-erbB-2 in 100 samples of normal breast with standard immunohistochemical methods and double-labelling techniques. EGF-R was mainly expressed on the stroma and myoepithelial cells, whereas c-erbB-2 expression was exclusively epithelial. An image analyser was used to quantitate variations in their expression during the menstrual cycle. EGF-R and c-erbB-2 expression on epithelial cells was stronger during the luteal phase than the follicular phase (p < 0.01 for EGF-R). The pattern of expression was also compared with that in 28 breast cancers and 7 fibroadenomas.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Breast / cytology
  • Breast / metabolism*
  • Breast Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology
  • ErbB Receptors / biosynthesis*
  • Female
  • Fibroadenoma / metabolism
  • Fibroadenoma / pathology
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Menstrual Cycle / metabolism*
  • Receptor, ErbB-2 / biosynthesis*
  • Reproducibility of Results


  • ErbB Receptors
  • Receptor, ErbB-2