Immunohistochemical determination of HER-2/neu expression in invasive breast carcinoma

R. Vang, L. D. Cooley, W. R. Harrison, T. Reese, J. Abrams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Numerous methods exist for HER-2/neu assessment; however, technical and interpretive standardization is virtually absent. We evaluated 2 commercially available antibodies on routinely fixed paraffin-embedded tissue sections to establish our own guidelines. Thirty-three cases of infiltrating breast carcinoma were evaluated simultaneously with monoclonal and polyclonal antibodies. Only membranous staining, no matter how focal, was considered positive. An additional 32 tumors were studied subsequently using only the polyclonal antibody. Of all carcinomas, 13.0% showed immunohistochemical evidence of HER-2/neu overexpression. High-grade tumors were more often positive. There was no HER-2/neu gene expression in the benign epithelium that generally was present in the tissue section or in any of the well-differentiated tumors tested. The polyclonal antibody proved more sensitive than the monoclonal antibody. While true cytoplasmic staining was present occasionally, it did not create substantial difficulty in interpretation. The polyclonal antibody cost substantially less than the monoclonal antibody. Fluorescence in situ hybridization assay for HER-2/neu gene amplification performed on 32 of 65 cases showed concordant results in 31 cases. The immunohistochemical assay for HER-2/neu gene overexpression, using our methods, is accurate, economic, and easily integrated into the laboratory.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)669-674
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican journal of clinical pathology
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2000
Externally publishedYes


  • Breast carcinoma
  • C-erbB2
  • FISH
  • Fluorescence in situ hybridization
  • HER-2/neu
  • Immunohistochemistry

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine


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