Breast Cancer Research and Treatment

, Volume 139, Issue 3, pp 741–750 | Cite as

HER3 status by immunohistochemistry is correlated with poor prognosis in hormone receptor-negative breast cancer patients

  • Soo Youn Bae
  • Yoon La Choi
  • Sangmin Kim
  • Minkuk Kim
  • Jiyoung Kim
  • Seung Pil Jung
  • Min-Young Choi
  • Se Kyung Lee
  • Won Ho Kil
  • Jeong Eon LeeEmail author
  • Seok Jin Nam
Clinical trial


Breast cancer is a highly heterogeneous malignancy. The triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) and human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2) breast cancer subtypes are highly aggressive and are associated with a poor prognosis. The therapeutic targets for TNBC remain undefined, and many patients with the HER2 subtype acquire resistance to therapy after prolonged treatment. The objective of this study was to evaluate the prognostic significance of HER3 expression in invasive breast carcinoma. We established matched tissue microarray (TMA) blocks and clinical data from 950 cases of invasive breast carcinoma with long-term clinical follow-up data (median 109.7 months). Using the TMAs, we characterized the expression of ER, PR, HER2, EGFR, and HER3 by immunohistochemistry. Each case was classified as one of four IHC-based subtypes based on the expression of hormonal receptor (HR) and HER2. The clinicopathological characteristics and survival of 950 patients were analyzed by subtype. In the TNBC subtype, the HER3(+) group showed poorer disease-free survival (DFS, P = 0.010) and overall survival (OS, P = 0.015) than the HER3(−) group. In the HER2 subtype, the HER3(+) group also showed poorer DFS (P = 0.022) and OS (P = 0.077) than the HER3(−) group. However, there was no difference in patients with HR-positive breast cancer. HER3 expression was associated with poor DFS in both the TNBC and HER2 subtypes and poor OS in the TNBC subtype. HER3 overexpression is an important prognostic marker in hormone receptor-negative breast cancer, and further study is needed to clarify the role of HER-3 targeted treatment.


Breast cancer Hormone receptor HER2 HER3 Prognosis 



This work was supported by a grant of the Korea Healthcare Technology R&D Project, Ministry for Health and Welfare Affairs, Republic of Korea (A092255) and in part by Samsung Biomedical Research Institute grant [GL1B32711].

Conflict of interest


Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Soo Youn Bae
    • 2
  • Yoon La Choi
    • 1
  • Sangmin Kim
    • 2
  • Minkuk Kim
    • 2
  • Jiyoung Kim
    • 2
  • Seung Pil Jung
    • 3
  • Min-Young Choi
    • 2
  • Se Kyung Lee
    • 2
  • Won Ho Kil
    • 2
  • Jeong Eon Lee
    • 2
    Email author
  • Seok Jin Nam
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of PathologySamsung Medical Center, Sungkyunkwan University School of MedicineSeoulRepublic of Korea
  2. 2.Department of SurgerySamsung Medical Center, Sungkyunkwan University School of MedicineSeoulRepublic of Korea
  3. 3.Department of SurgeryKorea University Hospital, Korea University College of MedicineSeoulKorea

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