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Protein expression of HER2, 3, 4 in gastric cancer: correlation with clinical features and survival
  1. Xiao Xiao He,
  2. Li Ding,
  3. Yuan Lin,
  4. Man Shu,
  5. Jian Ming Wen,
  6. Ling Xue
  1. Department of Pathology, The First Affiliated Hospital, Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou, Guangdong, China
  1. Correspondence to Professor Ling Xue, Department of Pathology, The First Affiliated Hospital, Sun Yat-sen University, 58 Zhongshan Road II, Guangzhou, Guangdong 510080, China; xuel{at}


Background and aims Despite significant improvements in targeted therapies for patients with advanced gastric cancer (GC), the prognosis of those patients remains poor. This study explores the expression and clinicopathological significance of human epidermal growth factor receptor 2, 3 and 4 (HER2, HER3, HER4) in GC, in order to find more prognostic biomarkers of GC and putative targets of therapy.

Methods Immunohistochemistry was performed for HER2, HER3 and HER4 in 498 patients with GC using tissue microarray. Correlations between the receptor expression and clinicopathological features, as well as prognosis of the patients were statistically analysed.

Results The high expression rates of HER2, HER3 and HER4 proteins in the patients were 8.6% (43/498), 20.7% (103/498) and 13.3% (66/498), respectively. High expression of HER2 and HER3 was correlated with proximal GC of the cardia (p<0.05). High expression of HER3 was associated with the tumour depth, tumour node metastasis (TNM) stage and lymph node metastasis (p<0.05). High expression of HER4 was associated with TNM stage (p<0.05) only. According to a regression model, high expression of HER3 was significantly associated with patients’ poor survival (p=0.004). High expression rates of HER2, HER3 and HER4 were correlated with each other, but they were all associated merely with histologically intestinal-type adenocarcinoma of GC (p<0.05).

Conclusions HER3 is correlated with the malignant biological behaviour of GC. Expression of HER3 is a significant predictor of poor survival in GC. Therefore, the development of HER3-targeted agents may provide new possibilities in the treatment of GC.


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