Novel antibody-drug conjugates against HER2 are showing high activity in HER2-negative breast cancer (BC) with low HER2 expression (i.e., 1+ or 2+ and lack of ERBB2 amplification). However, the clinical and molecular features of HER2-low BC are yet to be elucidated. Here, we collected retrospective clinicopathological and PAM50 data from 3,689 patients with HER2-negative disease and made the following observations. First, the proportion of HER2-low was higher in HR-positive disease (65.4%) than triple-negative BC (TNBC, 36.6%). Second, within HR-positive disease, ERBB2 and luminal-related genes were more expressed in HER2-low than HER2 0. In contrast, no gene was found differentially expressed in TNBC according to HER2 expression. Third, within HER2-low, ERBB2 levels were higher in HR-positive disease than TNBC. Fourth, HER2-low was not associated with overall survival in HR-positive disease and TNBC. Finally, the reproducibility of HER2-low among pathologists was suboptimal. This study emphasizes the large biological heterogeneity of HER2-low BC, and the need to implement reproducible and sensitive assays to measure low HER2 expression.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
- Pharmacology (medical)