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J Carcinog. 2005 Jun 9;4:8.

HER-2/neu and CD117 (c-kit) overexpression in patients with pesticide exposure and extensive stage small cell lung carcinoma (ESSCLC).

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1
Division of Hematology, Department of Medicine, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC 27715, USA. apotti@unmc.edu

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

The rate of detection of HER-2/neu and CD117 (c-kit) overexpression in small cell lung cancer (SCLC) has varied widely; between 5-35% and 21-70% respectively.

METHODS:

To evaluate the relationship between pesticide exposure and HER-2/neu and CD117 overexpression in extensive stage SCLC (ESSCLC), we identified patients with ESSCLC and assessed pesticide exposure using a predetermined questionnaire. An exposure index (hours/day x days/year x years) > or = 2400 hours was considered as 'exposed.' HER-2/neu overexpression was evaluated on archival tissue using the DAKO Hercep test, and CD117 testing was performed using immunohistochemistry (A4052 polyclonal antibody).

RESULTS:

193 ESSCLC patients were identified. Pesticide exposure data could be obtained on 174 patients (84 females and 109 males) with a mean age of 68.5 years. 53/174 (30.4%) revealed HER-2/neu overexpression. 54/174 (31.03%) specimens showed CD117 overexpression by IHC. On multivariate analysis, HER-2/neu overexpression was associated with diminished survival (p < 0.001). In comparison, CD117 expression did not have an adverse prognostic value (p = 0.025). 41/53 (77.4%) patients with HER-2/neu overexpression and 47/121 (38.8%) patients without overexpression had exposure to pesticides (odds ratio: 5.38; p < 0.01). Among the cohort tested for CD117, 29/54 (53.7%) patients with CD117 overexpression and 59/120 (49.2%) patients without CD117 overexpression had pesticide exposure (odds ratio: 1.18; p = 0.12).

CONCLUSION:

Pesticide exposure affects HER-2/neu but not CD117 overexpression. Future studies are needed to determine specific pesticide(s)/pesticide components that are responsible for HER-2/neu overexpression in ESSCLC, and to validate our findings in other solid tumors that overexpress HER-2/neu.

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