Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor Family and its Role in Gastric Cancer

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Despite the gradual decrease in incidence, gastric cancer is still the third leading cause of cancer death worldwide. Although chemotherapy enhances overall survival and quality of life in advanced disease, the median overall survival is < 12 months. In recent years, the human epidermal growth factor receptor (ErbB) family has been extensively investigated in gastric cancer. The ErbB family is composed of four closely-related members: ErbB-1 (HER1 or epidermal growth factor receptor, EGFR), ErbB-2 (HER2), ErbB-3 (HER3), and ErbB-4 (HER4), all of which play a critical role in regulating cell growth, proliferation and migration of tumors. It is well known that gastric cancer overexpresses HER in a heterogeneous pattern, especially EGFR, and HER2. HER3 is another important member of the ErbB family that preferentially activates the phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K) pathway. Furthermore, its heterodimerization with HER2 seems fundamental for steering HER2-overexpressing breast cancer tumor growth. Less is known about the impact of HER4 on gastric cancer. Improved survival from the use of trastuzumab has paved the way for ErbB receptor family-targeted treatments in gastric cancer. However, unlike trastuzumab, ErbB receptor-targeted drugs have not consistently maintained the encouraging results obtained in preclinical and early clinical trials. This may be attributable to the intrinsic heterogeneity of gastric cancer and/or to the lack of standardized test quality for established biomarkers used to evaluate these biological targets. This review presents an overview of the most recent clinical studies on agents targeting the ErbB family in gastric cancer.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1308
JournalFrontiers in Oncology
Publication statusPublished - Nov 26 2019


  • clinical trial
  • EGFR
  • gastric cancer
  • HER2
  • targeted therapy
  • tyrosine kinase inhibitor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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