Purpose: The expression of the c-erbB-2 oncogene was studied in childhood medulloblastoma to evaluate its prognostic value, which has been claimed previously.
Patients and methods: Tumor material from 45 patients < 15 years old at diagnosis was studied using 3 monoclonal antibodies against the internal and external domains of the c-erbB-2 oncogene product.
Results: Six of the 45 (13%) tumor specimens were found to be positive. C-erbB-2 expression was found more often in patients < 3 years old at diagnosis (4 of 15 patients, 27%) than in older patients (2 of 30, 6.6%). During the follow-up period (5.8 +/- 2.8 years) all patients with c-erbB-2 expression died of disease (after 1.2 +/- 0.7 years). Kaplan-Meier estimation revealed a highly significant correlation of c-erbB-2 expression and survival (p = 0.002). A further study of the expression of synaptophysin and the glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) in the 45 tumors revealed a negative correlation of the expression of c-erbB-2 and these proteins.
Conclusion: C-erbB-2, which may be predominantly expressed by less differentiated tumors, was found to delineate a poorer prognostic subgroup, especially when diagnosed in patients < 3 years old.