Epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) gene alteration and protein overexpression in Malaysian triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) cohort

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle



  • Zubaidah Zakaria
  • Muhamad Farid Zulkifle
  • Wan Atiqah Najiah Wan Hasan
  • Azlah Kamilah Azhari
  • Sayyidi Hamzi Abdul Raub
  • Jeyanthy Eswaran
  • Meera Soundararajan
  • Sharifah Noor Akmal Syed Husain



Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7749-7756
JournalOncoTargets and Therapy
Publication statusPublished - 20 Sep 2019
Publication type

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Background: Epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) is a member of the ErbB family of tyrosine kinase receptor proteins that plays important roles in tumour cell survival and proliferation. EGFR has been reported to be overexpressed in up to 78% of triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) cases suggesting it as a potential therapeutic target. The clinical trials of anti-EGFR agents in breast cancer showed low response rates. However, a subgroup of patients demonstrated response to EGFR inhibitors highlighting the necessity to stratify patients, who might benefit from effective combination therapy that could include anti EGFR-agents. Population variability in EGFR expression warrants systematic evaluation in specific populations.
Purpose: To study EGFR alterations and expressions in a multi ethnic Malaysian TNBC patient cohort to determine the possibility of using anti-EGFR combinatorial therapy for this population.
Patients and methods: In this study, we evaluated 58 cases of Malaysian TNBC patient samples for EGFR gene copy number alteration and EGFR protein overexpression using fluorescence in-situ hybridization (FISH) and immunohistochemistry (IHC) methods, respectively.
Results: EGFR protein overexpression was observed in about 30% while 15.5% displayed high EGFR copy number including 5.17% gene amplification and over 10% high polysomy. There is a positive correlation between EGFR protein overexpression and gene copy number and over expression of EGFR is observed in ten out of the 48 low copy number cases (20.9%) without gene amplification.
Conclusion: This study provides the first glimpse of EGFR alterations and expressions in a multi ethnic Malaysian TNBC patient cohort emphasising the need for the nationwide large scale EGFR expression evaluation in Malaysia.

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