Tumor Biology

, Volume 36, Issue 11, pp 9083–9091 | Cite as

Investigation of HER2 expression in canine mammary tumors by antibody-based, transcriptomic and mass spectrometry analysis: is the dog a suitable animal model for human breast cancer?

  • G. P. Burrai
  • A. Tanca
  • M. R. De Miglio
  • M. Abbondio
  • S. Pisanu
  • M. Polinas
  • S. Pirino
  • S. I. Mohammed
  • S. Uzzau
  • M. F. Addis
  • E. Antuofermo
Research Article


Canine mammary tumors (CMTs) share many features with human breast cancer (HBC), specifically concerning cancer-related pathways. Although the human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2) plays a significant role as a therapeutic and prognostic biomarker in HBC, its relevance in the pathogenesis and prognosis of CMT is still controversial. The aim of this study was to investigate HER2 expression in canine mammary hyperplasic and neoplastic tissues as well as to evaluate the specificity of the most commonly used polyclonal anti HER2 antibody by multiple molecular approaches. HER2 protein and RNA expression were determined by immunohistochemistry (IHC) and by quantitative real-time (qRT) PCR. A strong cell membrane associated with non-specific cytoplasmic staining was observed in 22 % of carcinomas by IHC. Adenomas and carcinomas exhibited a significantly higher HER2 mRNA expression when compared to normal mammary glands, although no significant difference between benign and malignant tumors was noticed by qRT-PCR. The IHC results suggest a lack of specificity of the FDA-approved antibody in CMT samples as further demonstrated by Western immunoblotting (WB) and reverse phase protein arrays (RPPA). Furthemore, HER2 was not detected by mass spectrometry (MS) in a protein-expressing carcinoma at the IHC investigation. This study highlights that caution needs to be used when trying to translate from human to veterinary medicine information concerning cancer-related biomarkers and pathways. Further investigations are necessary to carefully assess the diagnostic and biological role specifically exerted by HER2 in CMTs and the use of canine mammary tumors as a model of HER2 over-expressing breast cancer.


Antibody specificity Canine mammary tumors HER2 IHC Proteomics RT-PCR 



The authors gratefully acknowledge Dr. Tiziana Cubeddu for help in the interpretation of results.

This work was supported by Fondazione Banco di Sardegna 2010 and by PhD fellowship to G.P.B (P.O.R. Sardegna F.S.E. 2007–2013) - Obiettivo competitività regionale e occupazione, Asse IV Capitale umano, Linea di Attività l.3.1.


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Copyright information

© International Society of Oncology and BioMarkers (ISOBM) 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • G. P. Burrai
    • 1
  • A. Tanca
    • 2
  • M. R. De Miglio
    • 3
  • M. Abbondio
    • 2
  • S. Pisanu
    • 2
  • M. Polinas
    • 1
  • S. Pirino
    • 1
  • S. I. Mohammed
    • 4
  • S. Uzzau
    • 2
  • M. F. Addis
    • 2
  • E. Antuofermo
    • 1
  1. 1.Dipartimento di Medicina VeterinariaUniversità degli Studi di SassariSassariItaly
  2. 2.Porto Conte Ricerche SrlAlgheroItaly
  3. 3.Dipartimento di Medicina Clinica e SperimentaleUniversità degli Studi di SassariSassariItaly
  4. 4.Department of Comparative Pathobiology and Purdue University Centre for Cancer ResearchPurdue UniversityWest LafayetteUSA

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