Detection of HER-2/neu gene amplification in breast carcinomas using quantitative real-time PCR - A comparison with immunohistochemical and FISH results

Janina Kulka, Anna Mária Tokés, Pál Kaposi-Novák, Nóra Udvarhelyi, Anikó Keller, Zsuzsa Schaff

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31 Citations (Scopus)


The aim of our study was to evaluate the value of quantitative real-time-PCR (qPCR) in the determination of HER-2/neu amplification status of human breast carcinomas by comparing qPCR, FISH and immunohistochemistry results from the same samples. A total of 210 breast carcinomas were examined. Ready-to-use CB11 antibody was applied to detect HER-2/neu oncoprotein expression. In 76 out of 210 cases FISH was performed, and 162 cases were investigated with qPCR. Seventy-five tumors were 2+ or 3+ positive with immunohistochemistry, while 135 samples were either completely negative or 1+. In 45 cases results from all three methods were available. Out of these, in twenty negative and sixteen positive cases both FISH and qPCR led to similar results. The mean qPCR amplification ratio in the concordant positive cases was 5.424 while in the qPCR+/FISH- group the mean ratio was 2.765. Out of 121 samples with scores of 0 or 1+ immunohistochemical result, analyzed also with qPCR, 26 showed HER-2/neu gene amplification. In these cases the mean amplification ratio was 2.53. Comparison of FISH and qPCR together with immunohistochemistry shows that qPCR is more sensitive to detect HER-2/neu gene amplification in tumors scored as 2+ with immunohistochemistry, but the diagnostic cut-off ratio should be defined above 2.7 to avoid high number of false positive cases. Amongst the immunohistochemistry score 2+ cases, 10 of 18 showed gene amplification by qPCR while 10 of 26 by FISH. In conclusion, a well calibrated HER-2/neu qPCR assay may serve as useful alternative to FISH in breast cancer patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)197-204
Number of pages8
JournalPathology and Oncology Research
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 31 2006



  • Breast carcinoma
  • FISH
  • HER-2/neu DNA amplification
  • HER-2/neu protein
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • LightCycler RT-PCR system
  • Quantitative RT-PCR

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research

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