Independent associations between high heregulin messenger RNA (mRNA) and high human epidermal growth factor receptor 3 (HER3) protein levels and poor overall survival (OS) were discovered in patients with oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma (OPSCC), according to an article published online in the journal Cancer.
The investigators examined 96 primary tumor specimens from patients with OPSCC and analyzed for heregulin mRNA, HER3, and human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2), using in situ hybridization and immunohistochemistry, respectively.
Results showed heregulin mRNA levels greater than the median value were significantly associated with poor OS (HR, 8.48; 95% CI: 2.17, 33.17; P=0.002) but not disease-free survival (HR, 1.52; 95% CI: 0.64, 3.65; P=0.341) in patients with OPSCC.
Furthermore, a negative correlation was determined between heregulin mRNA and OS in patients with p16-positive (P=0.049) and p16-negative (P=0.091) OPSCC.
Similarly, HER3 levels greater than the median were also associated with poor OS (HR, 4.68; 95% CI: 1.47, 14.90; P=0.009) in patients with OPSCC.
An independent correlation was identified for epidermal growth factor receptor (HER) levels and disease-free survival (P=0.025), while HER was also inversely related to p16 status (P=0.012).
Using The Cancer Genome Atlas database, it was determined that head and neck squamous cell carcinoma exhibited higher levels of heregulin compared to other solid tumor types.
Although heregulin and human epidermal growth factor receptor 3 (HER3) are frequently expressed at high levels in patients with head and neck cancer, their prognostic value remains unclear. The authors explored the prognostic significance of heregulin/HER3 expression in patients with oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma (OPSCC), taking into account other HER family members as well as p16 status.