High HSP90 expression is associated with decreased survival in breast cancer

Elah Pick, Yuval Kluger, Jennifer M. Giltnane, Christopher Moeder, Robert L. Camp, David L. Rimm, Harriet M. Kluger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The heat shock protein HSP90 chaperones proteins implicated in breast cancer progression, including Her2/neu. HSP90-targeting agents are in clinical trials for breast cancer. HSP90 expression is high in breast cancer cell lines, yet no large studies have been conducted on expression in human tumors and the association with clinical/pathologic variables. Tissue microarrays containing 10 cell lines and primary specimens from 655 patients with 10-year follow-up were assessed using our automated quantitative analysis (AQUA) method; we used cytokeratin to define pixels as breast cancer (tumor mask) within the array spot and measured HSP90 expression within the mask using Cy5-conjugated antibodies. We similarly assessed estrogen receptor, progesterone receptor, and Her2/neu expression. HSP90 expression was more variable in human tumors than in cell lines (P < 0.0001). High HSP90 expression was associated with decreased survival (P = 0.0024). On multivariable analysis, high HSP90 expression remained an independent prognostic marker. High HSP90 expression was associated with high Her2/neu and estrogen receptor, large tumors, high nuclear grade, and lymph node involvement. Although HSP90 levels were high in all our cell lines, expression in tumors was more variable. High HSP90 expression in primary breast cancer defines a population of patients with decreased survival. Evaluation of HSP90 expression in early-stage breast cancer may identify a subset of patients requiring more aggressive or pathway-targeted treatment. Prospective studies are needed to confirm the prognostic role of HSP90, as well as the predictive role of HSP90 expression in patients treated with HSP90 inhibitors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2932-2937
Number of pages6
JournalCancer Research
Issue number7
StatePublished - 1 Apr 2007
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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