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HER2 shedding and serum HER2 extracellular domain: Biology and clinical utility in breast cancer.

Cancer Treatment Reviews
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1016/j.ctrv.2011.03.008
  • Biology
  • Medicine


The transmembrane protein HER2 is over-expressed in approximately 15% of invasive breast cancers as a result of HER2 gene amplification. HER2 proteolytic cleavage (HER2 shedding) generates soluble truncated HER2 molecules that include only the extracellular domain and the concentration of which can be measured in the serum fraction of blood. HER2 shedding also generates a constitutively active truncated intracellular receptor of 95kDa (p95(HER2)). Another soluble truncated HER2 protein (Herstatin), which can also be found in serum, is the product of an alternatively spliced HER2 transcript. Recent preclinical findings may provide crucial insights into the biological and clinical relevance of increased sHER2 concentrations for the outcome of HER2-positive breast cancer and sensitivity to trastuzumab and lapatinib treatment. We present here the most recent findings about the role and biology of sHER2 based on data obtained using a standardized test, which has been cleared by FDA in 2000, for measuring sHER2. This test includes quality control assessments and has been already widely used to evaluate the clinical utility of sHER2 as a biomarker in breast cancer. We will describe in detail data concerning the assessment of sHER2 as a surrogate maker to optimize the evaluation of the HER2 status of a primary tumor and as a prognosis and predictive marker of response to therapies, both in early and metastatic breast cancer.

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