Open Access Open Badges Project Note

Exposure to depleted uranium does not alter the co-expression of HER-2/neu and p53 in breast cancer patients

Mais M Al-Mumen, Asad A Al-Janabi, Alaa S Jumaa, Kaswer M Al-Toriahi and Akeel A Yasseen*

Author Affiliations

Department of Pathology and Forensic Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, Kufa, University, Kufa, P.O. Box 18, Iraq

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BMC Research Notes 2011, 4:87  doi:10.1186/1756-0500-4-87

Published: 29 March 2011



Amongst the extensive literature on immunohistochemical profile of breast cancer, very little is found on populations exposed to a potential risk factor such as depleted uranium. This study looked at the immunohistochemical expression of HER-2/neu (c-erbB2) and p53 in different histological types of breast cancer found in the middle Euphrates region of Iraq, where the population has been exposed to high levels of depleted uranium.


The present investigation was performed over a period starting from September 2008 to April 2009. Formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded blocks from 70 patients with breast cancer (62 ductal and 8 lobular carcinoma) were included in this study. A group of 25 patients with fibroadenoma was included as a comparative group, and 20 samples of normal breast tissue sections were used as controls. Labeled streptavidin-biotin (LSAB+) complex method was employed for immunohistochemical detection of HER-2/neu and p53.

The detection rate of HER-2/neu and p53 immunohistochemical expression were 47.14% and 35.71% respectively in malignant tumors; expression was negative in the comparative and control groups (p < 0.05).

HER-2/neu immunostaining was significantly associated with histological type, tumor size, nodal involvement, and recurrence of breast carcinoma (p < 0.05), p53 immunostaining was significantly associated with tumor size, nodal involvement and recurrence of breast cancer (p < 0.05). There was greater immunoexpression of HER-2/neu in breast cancer in this population, compared with findings in other populations.

Both biomarkers were positively correlated with each other. Furthermore, all the cases that co-expressed both HER-2/neu and p53 showed the most unfavorable biopathological profile.


P53 and HER-2/neu over-expression play an important role in pathogenesis of breast carcinoma. The findings indicate that in regions exposed to high levels of depleted uranium, although p53 and HER-2/neu overexpression are both high, correlation of their expression with age, grade, tumor size, recurrence and lymph node involvement is similar to studies that have been conducted on populations not exposed to depleted uranium. HER-2/neu expression in breast cancer was higher in this population, compared with results on non-exposed populations.