Priority Research Papers:

Serum HER2 levels are increased in cats with mammary carcinomas and predict tissue HER2 status

Maria Soares, Rita Ribeiro, Shabir Najmudin, Andreia Gameiro, Rita Rodrigues, Fátima Cardoso and Fernando Ferreira _

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Oncotarget. 2016; 7:17314-17326. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.7551

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Maria Soares1, Rita Ribeiro1, Shabir Najmudin1, Andreia Gameiro1, Rita Rodrigues1, Fátima Cardoso2 and Fernando Ferreira1

1 CIISA, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Lisbon, Lisbon, Portugal

2 Breast Unit, Champalimaud Clinical Center, Lisbon, Portugal

Correspondence to:

Fernando Ferreira, email:

Keywords: feline mammary carcinomas, HER2, serum HER2 levels, ELISA, dot blot assay

Received: September 28, 2015 Accepted: January 18, 2016 Published: February 21, 2016


HER2 is overexpressed in about 30% of feline mammary carcinomas (FMC) and in 15-30% of breast cancers. Women with HER2-positive breast tumors are associated with shorter survival. This study aimed to optimize the detection and quantification of serum HER2 (sHER2) in cats and to evaluate its potential in diagnosing cats with mammary carcinomas (MC) overexpressing HER2. A prospective study was conducted in 60 queens showing MC and 20 healthy animals. Pre-operative serum samples were collected for sHER2 quantification using two immunoassays: ELISA and Dot blot assay. sHER2 levels were compared with tissue HER2 status assessed by immunohistochemistry. Queens with FMC showed significantly higher mean levels of sHER2 by both ELISA and Dot blot assay. A significant difference in the sHER2 levels was also found between cats with HER2-positive MC and those with low-expressing HER2 MC. A significant correlation between sHER2 levels and tumor HER2 status was also found, particularly when ELISA was used (r = 0.58, p < 0.0001). The value of 10 ng/ml was proposed as the optimal cutoff for both immunoassays by ROC analysis. Like in humans, sHER2 levels are increased in cats with MC HER2-positive, strongly suggesting that evaluation of sHER2 levels can be very useful in feline oncology. The results show that ELISA and Dot blot assay can replace the immunohistochemistry technique, due to their efficacy and lower costs for diagnostic purposes and for monitoring the response to anti-HER2 therapies in cats.

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