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Br J Cancer. 2001 May 18;84(10):1377-83.

Expression and clinical significance of erb-B receptor family in hepatocellular carcinoma.

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Department of Surgery, Osaka Seamen's Insurance Hospital, 1-8-30, Chikko, Minato-ku, Osaka, 552-0021, Japan.


In order to elucidate the clinical significance of the erbB family, epidermal growth factor receptor (EGF-R), c-erbB-2, c-erbB-3 and c-erbB-4 in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), we investigated the expression of these proteins by means of immunohistochemistry for HCC as well as adjacent noncancerous lesions. EGF-R was expressed in 68% of the HCC examined and showed correlation with the proliferating activity, stage, intrahepatic metastasis and carcinoma differentiation. c-erbB-2 was expressed in only 21% of the cases and showed no relationships with the clinicopathological parameters. c-erbB-3 protein was observed in 84% of the HCC and 38.1% of the noncancerous lesions. Its expression in HCC was equal to or greater than noncancerous lesions in 90.5% of the cases, and was related to the stage, portal invasion, cell proliferating activity, tumour size, intrahepatic metastasis and carcinoma differentiation. c-erbB-4 protein was expressed in 61.0% of HCC and in as much as 86.1% of the noncancerous lesions. Unlike the expression of c-erbB-3, that of c-erbB-4 in HCC was less than that of the adjacent noncancerous lesions in 51.2% of the cases. No statistical significance could be established between this protein expression in HCC and clinicopathological features. EGF-R and c-erbB-3 affected disease-free survival, but were not recognized as independent prognostic factors by multivariate analysis. The present study suggests that, of the four receptors, EGF-R and c-erbB-3 play important roles in the progression of HCC.

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