Human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2 or ErbB2) can be overexpressed, amplified and/or mutated in malignant tumors, and is a candidate for therapeutic targeting. However, molecular associations and clinical significances of these alterations were controversial in lung cancer. In this study, we investigated the frequency and clinicopathological significance of HER2 dysregulation in patients with lung adenocarcinoma. HER2 protein overexpression, gene amplification, and gene mutation were evaluated by immunohistochemistry (IHC), silver in situ hybridization, and direct sequencing, respectively. The H-scoring method and American Society of Clinical Oncology/College of American Pathologists breast cancer guidelines were used to interpret IHC results. Genetic analyses of EGFR and KRAS mutations, and of ALK and ROS1 rearrangements, were also performed. Of the 321 adenocarcinoma patients identified, HER2 overexpression (Hscore ≤200) and gene amplification were found in 6 (1.9%) and 46 (14.3%), respectively. HER2 overexpression was correlated with papillary predominant histology; furthermore, it indicated poor overall survival and was an independent prognostic factor. HER2 amplification was associated with pleural invasion and showed a tendency towards shorter overall and disease-free survival. High-level gene amplification (HER2/CEP17 ratio ≤5 or copy number ≥10) was a poor prognostic factor for disease-free survival. HER2 mutations were detected in 6.7% (7 of 104) of driver oncogene-negative adenocarcinomas. Our study suggests that HER2 overexpression or amplification is a poor prognostic factor in lung adenocarcinoma, although the frequency of such events is low. Since molecular targeted agents are being tested in clinical trials, awareness of the specific HER2 status can influence the prognostic stratification and treatment of patients with molecularly defined subsets of lung adenocarcinoma.
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© 2017 Kim et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
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