Determination of ErbB2 protein in breast cancer tissues by different methods. Relationships with other biological parameters

A. Piffanelli, R. Dittadi, L. Catozzi, M. Gion, G. Capitanio, M. C. Gelli, A. Brazzale, R. Malagutti, D. Pelizzola, A. Menegon, G. Giovannini, G. Gardini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Four different methods to measure in parallel the erbB2 protein expression (p185(neu)) were evaluated in order to: a) compare two enzyme immunoassays with the immunohistochemical assays (IHC) and western blotting (WE) and b) extrapolate eventual relationships between erbB2 and biological parameters. Tissue samples from 248 patients with primary breast cancer were consecutively assayed. We used two different cut-off levels for WE, ELISA, and EIA, defined as follows: 1) the highest level of expression of non malignant tissue was chosen as the discriminant threshold between 'low' and 'elevated' samples: 2) the elevated group was further subdivided into two subgroups: 'intermediate' and 'high', according to their median value. According to the first cut-off, the results were considered 'elevated' in about 52% of cases with the three biochemical methods, while using the second cut-off the percentage lowered to about 26%. Considering this cut-off, the concordance rates between the paired biochemical methods ranged between: 78.4% (WE vs EIA), 93% (ELISA vs EIA), and 82.6% (ELISA vs WE). The comparison between biochemical and immunohistochemical methods gave these concordance rates: 82% (WE vs IHC), 90.5% (ELISA vs IHC), and 85.5% (EIA vs. IHC). According to the first cut off level, 27.5% of tumor samples showed IHC detectable p185 levels, in agreement with other immunohistochemical studies. The relationship between high erbB2 and estrogen and progesterone receptors showed an inverse association. No relationship was found between erbB2 and axillary lymph node positivity or tumor size. In short, the results of the four methods seem generally well correlated; nevertheless, it appears that different methodological approaches of measuring p185(neu) are not completely equivalent, and there is a need for an authoritative standardization and quality control for clinical applications.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)267-276
Number of pages10
JournalBreast Cancer Research and Treatment
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1996


  • Breast cancer
  • erbB2
  • Immunoenzymatic assays
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Prognostic factor
  • Western blotting

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


Dive into the research topics of 'Determination of ErbB2 protein in breast cancer tissues by different methods. Relationships with other biological parameters'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this