EGFR overexpression in malignant pleural mesothelioma An immunohistochemical and molecular study with clinico-pathological correlations

Lung Cancer. 2005 Dec 26; [Epub ahead of print]. [Link]

Destro A, Ceresoli GL, Falleni M, Zucali PA, Morenghi E, Bianchi P, Pellegrini C, Cordani N, Vaira V, Alloisio M, Rizzi A, Bosari S, Roncalli M.

Molecular Genetics Laboratory, IRCCS Istituto Clinico Humanitas, Via Manzoni 56, 20089 Rozzano, Milano, Italy.


The epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) is overexpressed in many epithelial malignancies, against which some antitumoral drugs have been developed. There is a lack of information as to EGFR expression in malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM), an aggressive and fatal cancer poorly responsive to current oncological treatments. Our aim was to: (a) compare EGFR immunohistochemical expression with mRNA levels measured by real time PCR; (b) assess the relationships between EGFR expression and clinico-pathological data including survival; (c) analyze the EGFR mutations. We developed an immunohistochemical method of EGFR evaluation based on the number of immunoreactive cells and staining intensity in 61 MPMs. EGFR immunoreactivity was documented in 34/61 (55.7%) cases. A significant correlation between EGFR protein and mRNA levels (p=0.0077) was found, demonstrating the reliability of our quantification method of EGFR membrane expression. Radically resected patients (p=0.005) and those with epithelial histotype (p=0.048) showed an increased survival. No statistical correlation between EGFR immunoreactivity and patients survival was observed. No EGFR mutation was documented. This study documents EGFR overexpression in MPM at the protein and the transcriptional levels; it proposes a reliable method for EGFR expression evaluation in MPM. EGFR levels are not associated with clinico-pathological features of patients, including survival.