HER-2/neu expression in prostate cancer: High level of expression associated with exposure to hormone therapy and androgen independent disease

Yan Shi, Frank H. Brands, Sunanda Chatterjee, An Chen Feng, Susan Groshen, Jörg Schewe, Gary Lieskovsky, Richard J. Cote

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111 Scopus citations


Purpose: HER-2/neu is a proto-oncogene that encodes a transmembrane receptor belonging to the family of epidermal growth factor receptors. Increasing evidences indicates that HER-2/neu may contribute to hormone resistance in prostate cancer. We investigated HER-2/neu expression in primary, androgen dependent and advanced androgen independent prostate cancer, and its potential value as a marker of disease progression. Materials and Methods: Immunohistochemical testing was performed to investigate HER-2/ neu expression in 81 patients with prostate cancer, including 31 with pathological stage C disease treated with radical prostatectomy without preoperative androgen ablation therapy (untreated group), 30 with pathological stage C disease treated before surgery with androgen ablation therapy (treated group) and 20 with advanced androgen independent prostate cancer (androgen independent group). Tumors were classified based on the percent of tumor cells showing HER-2/neu membrane immunoreactivity as low (50% or less) and high (50% or greater) expression. Results: Of the 31 prostate tumors in the untreated group 9 (29%) showed high HER-2/neu expression versus 15 of 30 (50%) in the treated and 17 of 20 (85%) in the androgen independent groups. The difference in HER-2/neu expression was significant in the untreated and androgen independent (p <0.001) and in the treated and androgen independent (p = 0.016) groups. There was a significant association of Gleason score with HER-2/neu expression in the untreated group (p = 0.038) but not in the treated group. No association was found of tumor substage with HER-2/neu expression. In the untreated group patients with tumors showing high HER-2/neu expression had a decreased survival rate (p = 0.044). Conclusions: High HER-2/neu expression is highly associated with exposure to hormone therapy and androgen independence. It may contribute to androgen independence in prostate cancer and identify patients with prostate cancer more likely to have disease progression, particularly those not exposed to previous hormone therapy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1514-1519
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Urology
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2001


  • Androgens
  • Biological
  • Prostate
  • Prostatic neoplasms
  • Proto-oncogenes
  • Tumor markers


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