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Int J Biol Markers. 2003 Jan-Mar;18(1):13-20.

Quantitative assessment of HER-2/neu protein concentration in breast cancer by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay.

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Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University Hospital Hamburg-Eppendorf, Hamburg, Germany.



The HER-2/neu protein (p185) has become a promising target for antibody therapy in breast cancer. We tested the feasibility of a quantitative approach for HER-2/neu testing based on the analysis of tumor tissue extracts by an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA).


Tumor tissue extracts of primary human breast cancers (n=124) were prepared using a triton-based buffer. HER-2/neu concentration was quantified by ELISA. Paraffin-embedded tissue sections of the same tumors were analyzed by immunohistochemical staining applying the monoclonal HER-2/neu antibody TAB 250 (n=124) and by chromogenic in situ hybridization (CISH) (n=73).


Concentrations of p185 in tissue extracts determined by ELISA varied from 1 to 927 ng per mg protein with a median of 25 ng/mg protein, whereas normal breast tissue showed values from 0.4 to 5.5 ng/mg with a median of 2.2 ng/mg (p<0.0001, Mann-Whitney U test). A significant correlation between p185 concentration and immunohistochemical staining was observed (p<0.0001, Kruskal-Wallis test). In addition, p185 concentration measured by ELISA was correlated with the degree of HER-2/neu gene amplification determined by CISH. HER-2/neu-amplified tumors had significantly higher p185 concentrations (median value 181 ng/mg protein) than non-amplified tumors (median value 20 ng/mg; p<0.0001, Mann-Whitney U test).


ELISA-based measurement of HER-2/neu protein concentration in breast cancer tissue extracts is feasible and provides quantitative results for p185 protein concentrations that correlate closely with HER-2/neu immunoscore and gene amplification.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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