High c-erbB-3 protein expression is associated with shorter survival in advanced non-small cell lung carcinomas

Mod Pathol. 1997 Feb;10(2):142-8.


c-erbB-3 is a new member of the Type I growth factor receptor family that includes epidermal growth-factor receptor (also called c-erbB-1) and HER-2/neu (also called c-erbB-2). Frequency and significance of c-erbB-3 overexpression in lung cancers have not been reported previously. A series of 549 cases of primary lung carcinomas were immunostained with a monoclonal anti-human c-erbB-3 antibody (Clone RTJ.1) using formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded archival tissue. Sharp membranous staining or punctate cytoplasmic staining was interpreted as positive and scored 0 (< 5% of tumor cells), 1 (5-9%), 2 (10-49%), or 3 (> or = 50%). Medical records were reviewed for clinical data, including stage and survival. Actuarial cumulative survival analysis with the Mantel-Cox test was performed on 443 cases that had a single primary site in the lung of pure non-small cell carcinoma (adenocarcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, large cell carcinoma) and that also had follow-up data for more than 3 months. In all stages, squamous cell carcinoma showed the greatest rate of high c-erbB-3 positivity (score, 3) (34/119; 28.6%), followed by adenocarcinoma (41/256; 15.9%) and large cell carcinoma (7/66; 10.6%). Patients with high c-erbB-3 expression (score, 3) survived for significantly shorter times than did patients with low c-erbB-3-expression (score, 0-2) in Stages III and IV (P = 0.002), but not in Stage I or II non-small cell lung carcinomas. In conclusion, high c-erbB-3 expression in advanced non-small cell lung carcinomas might be an adverse prognostic factor. This finding suggests that c-erbB-3 might be a potential target for molecular therapy in advanced non-small cell lung carcinomas.

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma / metabolism
  • Adenocarcinoma / mortality
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / biosynthesis*
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / metabolism*
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / mortality
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / metabolism
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / mortality
  • ErbB Receptors / analysis
  • ErbB Receptors / biosynthesis*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Lung Neoplasms / mortality
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prognosis
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins / analysis
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins / biosynthesis*
  • Receptor, ErbB-3
  • Survival Analysis


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins
  • ErbB Receptors
  • Receptor, ErbB-3