Expression of Her-2/neu in human lung cancer cell lines by immunohistochemistry and fluorescence in situ hybridization and its relationship to in vitro cytotoxicity by trastuzumab and chemotherapeutic agents

Jr Bunn, B. Helfrich, A. F. Soriano, W. A. Franklin, M. Varella-Garcia, F. R. Hirsch, A. Baron, C. Zeng, D. C. Chan

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144 Scopus citations

Abstract

Overexpression of the Her-2/neu oncogene and receptor protein was reported in ∼20% of breast cancers and was associated with a poor prognosis. Her-2/neu expression was a predictor for response to trastuzumab, a monoclonal antibody that recognizes the Her-2/neu cell surface receptor. Data regarding the expression of Her-2/neu in lung cancer are far more limited, and there is little information regarding the influence of Her-2/neu expression and response to trastuzumab alone or in combination with chemotherapeutic agents. In this report we evaluated Her-2/neu gene expression by fluorescence in sim hybridization (FISH) and the cell surface expression of the Her-2/neu receptor by immunohistochemistry using the HercepTest and by FACS analysis in 31 lung cancer cell lines with 5 breast cancer cell lines as controls. By FACS, we found Her-2/neu overexpression (mean fluorescence intensity >8) in 2 of the 22 non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) cell lines (9%), none of 11 small cell lung cancer (SCLC) cell lines, and 4 of 5 breast cancer cell lines. A positive HercepTest (2+ or 3+) was found in 6 of 19 NSCLC cell lines (26%, 2+; 5%, 3+), 1 of 3 SCLC cell lines (33%), and 4 of 5 breast cancer cell lines (80%). One of 6 NSCLC cell lines examined (17%) had gene amplification with >32 copies of Her-2/neu/cell and had homogeneous staining regions. One NSCLC cell line had a maximum of 14 copies of Her-2/neu/cell, and 3 had modest increases in Her-2/neu gene copy number without gene amplification (maximum 5-8 copies/cell). None of the SCLC cell lines had more than a maximum of 4 copies/cell, whereas the 2 breast cancer cell lines had maximum Her-2/neu copy numbers of 80 and 5, respectively. Aneusomy rather than true amplification was the major cause of increased Her-2/neu expression in most of the NSCLC cell lines. There was a strong correlation when the results of fluorescence-activated cell sorter, HercepTest results, and FISH were compared in pairs. Furthermore, Trastuzumab produced a G1 cell cycle arrest and growth inhibition only in cell lines expressing Her-2/neu. The IC50 for growth inhibition was correlated with cell surface Her-2/neu expression. The combination of trastuzumab and chemotherapeutic agents produced more than additive growth inhibition in cell lines expressing Her-2/neu, but the level of additivity was not related to the amount of Her-2/neu expression. These data indicate that trastuzumab alone and in combination with chemotherapeutic agents should be tested in NSCLC patients and that Her-2/neu should be assessed by both immunohistochemistry and FISH methods in these studies to determine which test is the best predictor of outcome.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3239-3250
Number of pages12
JournalClinical Cancer Research
Volume7
Issue number10
StatePublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes

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