Standardization of HER2 testing: Results of an international proficiency-testing ring study

University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Modern Pathology (Impact Factor: 6.19). 05/2007; 20(5):584-91. DOI: 10.1038/modpathol.3800774
Source: PubMed


Human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2) positivity in breast cancer is a prognostic factor regarding tumor aggressiveness and a predictive factor for response to trastuzumab (Herceptin). Early and accurate HER2 testing of all breast cancer patients at primary diagnosis is essential for optimal disease management. Routine HER2 tests, such as immunohistochemistry and fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH), are subject to interlaboratory variation, and validation by laboratory proficiency testing is important to improve standardization. This study compared immunohistochemistry and FISH testing between five international pathology reference centers. Each center evaluated 20 immunohistochemistry and 20 FISH breast cancer specimens in five testing rounds. In each round, one center selected two sets of four different invasive tumor specimens (set A for immunohistochemistry and set B for FISH) and sent samples to the other four centers in a blinded manner, while retaining samples for its own evaluation. Results were analyzed by an independent coordinator. With immunohistochemistry, there were no differences between the five centers for any of the specimens at the level of diagnostic decision (positive or negative HER2 status). However, differences between laboratories were observed in immunohistochemistry scoring. Of the 20 specimens, four were scored as negative (0/1+) and five as positive (3+) in all centers; eight were negative or equivocal (2+), and three positive or equivocal. After FISH retesting of nine of the 11 equivocal immunohistochemistry cases, consensus was achieved in 15 of 18 (83%) specimens. FISH analysis of set B specimens resulted in consensus between centers in 16 of 20 (80%) specimens (six negative and 10 positive). All four discordant FISH specimens were scored as having HER2:CEP17 ratios within the range 1.7-2.3 by at least one center. Equivocal immunohistochemistry and borderline FISH cases are difficult to interpret, even for highly experienced and validated laboratories, highlighting the need for quality-control procedures.

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Available from: Frédérique Penault-Llorca, Feb 27, 2015
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    • "Discordant results mostly occur in borderline positive samples, emphasizing the level of subjectivity in HER2 evaluation in reproducing the intermediate scoring categories. These data are in line with other literature on EQA studies [24,26] and support the conclusion that the definition of shared procedures may overcome these limitations by providing more consistent and reproducible diagnostic results. "
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    ABSTRACT: An External Quality Assessment (EQA) program was developed to investigate the state of the art of HER2 immunohistochemical determination in breast cancer (BC) in 16 Pathology Departments in the Lazio Region (Italy). This program was implemented through two specific steps to evaluate HER2 staining (step 1) and interpretation (step 2) reproducibility among participants. The management activities of this EQA program were assigned to the Coordinating Center (CC), the Revising Centers (RCs) and the Participating Centers (PCs). In step 1, 4 BC sections, selected by RCs, were stained by each PC using their own procedures. In step 2, each PC interpreted HER2 score in 10 BC sections stained by the CC. The concordance pattern was evaluated by using the kappa category-specific statistic and/or the weighted kappa statistic with the corresponding 95% Jackknife confidence interval. In step 1, a substantial/almost perfect agreement was reached between the PCs for scores 0 and 3+ whereas a moderate and fair agreement was observed for scores 1+ and 2+, respectively.In step 2, a fully satisfactory agreement was observed for 6 out of the 16 PCs and a quite satisfactory agreement was obtained for the remaining 10 PCs. Our findings highlight that in the whole HER2 evaluation process the two intermediate categories, scores 1+ and 2+, are less reproducible than scores 0 and 3+. These findings are relevant in clinical practice where the choice of treatment is based on HER2 positivity, suggesting the need to share evaluation procedures within laboratories and implement educational programs.
    Full-text · Article · Aug 2013 · Journal of Experimental & Clinical Cancer Research
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    • "IHC is susceptible to interobserver variability and, as with any assay technique, required standardization and validation [3-10]. A very good correlation has been demonstrated between HER2 protein overexpression and HER2 gene amplification [11]. Therapeutic response to trastuzumab was observed exclusively in patients harboring HER2 gene amplification [12]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Until now, FISH has been the gold standard technique to identify HER2 amplification status in ambiguous cases of breast cancer. Alternative techniques have been developed to increase the capacities of investigating HER2 amplification status. The aims of this multicenter study in a large series of breast cancer patients were to prospectively compare the level of performance of CISH, SISH, and qPCR alternative techniques on paraffin-embedded core biopsies with "gold standard FISH" for evaluation of HER2 amplification status. This study was performed on 840 cases scored by immunohistochemistry (IHC): 0=317 (38%), 1+=183 (22%), 2+=109 (13%), 3+=231 (27%). Each of the 15 French centers participating in the study analyzed 56 breast carcinoma cases diagnosed on fixed paraffin-embedded core biopsies. HER2 amplification status was determined by commercially available FISH used as the reference technique with determination of the HER2/CEN17 ratio or HER2 copy number status. The alternative techniques performed on the same cases were commercially available SISH or CISH and a common qPCR method especially designed for the study including a set of 10 primer pairs: 2 for HER2 (exons 8 and 26), 5 to evaluate chromosome 17 polysomy TAOK1, UTP6, MRM1, MKS1, SSTR2 and 3 for diploidy control TSN, LAP3 and ADAMTS16. The concordance between IHC and FISH was 96% to 95% based on the HER2/CEN17 ratio (n=766) or HER2 copy number (n=840), respectively. The concordance of the alternative techniques with FISH was excellent: 97% and 98% for SISH (498 and 587 cases), 98% and 75% for CISH (108 and 204 cases) and 95% and 93% (699 and 773 cases) for qPCR based on the HER2/CEN17 ratio or HER2 copy number, respectively. Similarly, sensitivity ranged from 99% to 95% for SISH, 100% to 99% for CISH and 89% to 80% for qPCR. The concordance with FISH (ratio) in the 2+ cases was 89% for SISH, 100% for CISH and 93% for qPCR. These alternative techniques showed an excellent concordance with FISH in core biopsies allowing their use in routine clinical practice. This newly designed qPCR on paraffin-embedded core biopsies deserves special attention, as it is reliable, easy to perform and less expensive than ISH tests.
    Full-text · Article · Jul 2013 · BMC Cancer
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    • "Immunohistochemistry has been described to lack objectivity producing false-positive or -negative outcomes due to interobserver variability, and both immunohistochemistry and FISH are heavily dependent from technical issues such as fixation and buffering [40,41]. However, major efforts with respect to standardization of protocols and evaluation systems have improved the rate of discordance between immunohistochemistry and FISH results over the last years [42–44]. In consequence, the estimated rate of incorrectly assessed Her2 could be lowered to less than 5% [45]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Her2 expression and amplification occurs in a significant subset of gastro-esophageal carcinomas. Her2 is a client protein of molecular chaperones, e.g. heat shock protein (HSP) 90, rendering targeted therapies against Her2/HSP90 an interesting approach. This study aimed to investigate the role and relationship of Her2 and HSP90 in gastric and gastro-esophageal adenocarcinomas. Immunohistochemical determination of HSP90 and Her2 expression was performed on 347 primary resected tumors. Her2 amplification was additionally determined by fluorescence in situ hybridization for all cases. Expression and amplification results were correlated with pathologic parameters (UICC pTNM category, tumor grading) and survival. Elevated Her2 copy numbers were observed in 87 tumors, 21 of them showing amplification. 174 tumors showed Her2 immunoreactivity/expression. HSP 90 immunoreactivity was found in 125 tumors. There was no difference between gastric carcinomas and carcinomas of the gastroesophageal junction regarding Her2 or HSP90. Both high HSP90 and Her2 expression/amplification were associated with earlier tumor stages (p<0.01), absence of lymph node metastases (p<0.02) and Laurens intestinal type (p<0.001). HSP90 correlated with Her2 expression and amplification (p<0.001 each). Expressions of HSP90 and Her2, but not Her2 amplification were associated with better prognosis (p=0.02; p=0.004; p=0.802). Moreover, Her2 expression was an independent prognostic factor for overall survival in the subgroup of gastric carcinoma patients (p=0.014) besides pT category, pN category and distant metastases. Her2 expression and gene amplification occurred in a significant subset of cases. Our results suggest a favorable prognostic impact of Her2 expression. This warrants further investigations regarding the significance of Her2 non-amplified tumors showing Her2 immunoreactivity and the definition of Her2 status in gastric cancers. Moreover, the correlation of Her2 expression with the expression of Her2 chaperoning HSP90 may indicate a synergistic regulation. Targeting HSP90 with or without Her2 may offer additional therapeutic options for gastric carcinoma treatment.
    Full-text · Article · Jul 2013 · PLoS ONE
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