ABCR  Vol.3 No.2 , April 2014
Expression of the Epidermal Growth Factor Receptors and Ligands in Paired Samples of Normal Breast Tissue, Primary Breast Carcinomas and Lymph Node Metastases

Purpose: In breast cancer, the EGF receptors host an increasing number of therapeutic targets and the interactive mechanisms of actions of the receptors and their ligands justify investigation of the EGF family as an entity. Experimental design: Paired tissue samples of normal breast tissue and primary breast carcinomas were examined in a prospective study of 163 patients. A third sample was obtained from the paired ipsilateral metastatic lymph node from 58 of these patients. The mRNA expression of four EGF receptors (HER1 - HER4) and 11 activating ligands was quantified with real-time RT-PCR. Results: Expression of HER2, HER3, and HER4 mRNA was upregulated in primary carcinomas compared to normal breast tissue while HER1 was downregulated. The mRNA expression of HER3 and HER4 differed between primary breast carcinomas and lymph node metastases whereas there was no difference in the expression of HER1 and HER2. The combination of low HER3 and low HER4 expression in the primary carcinoma was significantly more frequent in lymph node-negative patients as compared to lymph node positive patients. Distinct correlation patterns of the receptors and their corresponding activating ligands appeared in both normal breast tissue and in carcinomas, notably for the HER3 and HER4 receptors and their 3 specific ligands: HB-EGF, NRG2, and NRG4. Conclusion: HER2, HER3, and HER4 showed increased mRNA expression in carcinomas and were positively correlated to each other and to specific activating ligands. Furthermore, low HER3 and HER4 expression in the carcinomas correlated to the absence of lymph node metastases.

Cite this paper
Brügmann, A. , Jensen, V. , Garne, J. , Nexo, E. and Sorensen, B. (2014) Expression of the Epidermal Growth Factor Receptors and Ligands in Paired Samples of Normal Breast Tissue, Primary Breast Carcinomas and Lymph Node Metastases. Advances in Breast Cancer Research, 3, 22-37. doi: 10.4236/abcr.2014.32005.
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