Cross-reactivity of EGFR Mutation-specific Immunohistochemistry Assay in HER2-positive Tumors : Applied Immunohistochemistry & Molecular Morphology

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Cross-reactivity of EGFR Mutation-specific Immunohistochemistry Assay in HER2-positive Tumors

Verdu, Montse BSc*,†; Trias, Isabel MD*,‡; Roman, Ruth PhD; Rodon, Natalia BSc; Pubill, Carme BSc*; Arraiza, Nuria HT*; Martinez, Begonya HT*; Garcia-Pelaez, Beatriz PhD; Serrano, Teresa MD, PhD*,‡; Puig, Xavier MD, PhD*,‡

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Applied Immunohistochemistry & Molecular Morphology 23(8):p 565-570, September 2015. | DOI: 10.1097/PAI.0000000000000129


The coexpression of HER2 and EGFR L858R in a solitary nodule removed from the lung, whose mutation was not confirmed by molecular techniques, made us think about the possible existence of a cross-reaction between HER2 and the EGFR L858R-specific antibody. Our study was designed to further analyze the existence of this cross-reaction and stress the need to exclude a metastatic breast cancer when dealing with EGFR L858R-positive cases. The series consists of 42 primary breast carcinomas, 22 HER2 positive for overexpression and amplification, and 20 negative for both. EGFR mutations were studied by immunohistochemistry and confirmed using real-time PCR when positive. Immunohistochemistry assay with EGFR L858R was positive in 19 (86%) of the HER2-positive breast carcinomas and negative in all HER2-negative carcinomas. The EGFR L858R antibody gives false-positive results in most of the breast carcinomas with HER2 overexpression/amplification. As a consequence, it is essential to confirm any EGFR L858R-positive cases by molecular methods or at least discard the presence of HER2 overexpression/amplification before rendering a diagnosis. It is also important to consider that HER2 has been described in other carcinomas such as urothelial, gastric or ovarian, as well as lung, although infrequently.

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