C-erb-B2 (HER2/neu) expression in synovial sarcoma of the head and neck

Randall J. Olsen, William M. Lydiatt, Scott A. Koepsell, Daniel Lydiatt, Sonny L. Johansson, Sabine Naumann, Julia A. Bridge, James R. Neff, Steven H. Hinrichs, Stefano R. Tarantolo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Background. Synovial sarcoma is a malignant mesenchymal tumor composed of varying proportions of spindle and epithelial cell components. Because of the histologic and immunohistochemical similarity of synovial sarcoma to epithelial carcinomas, we hypothesized that the human epithelial growth factor receptor 2 (C-erb-B2, also termed HER2/neu) may contribute to the tumor phenotype and provide a new therapeutic target for this soft tissue tumor. Methods. Three head and neck, one chest wall, and seven extremity synovial sarcomas were evaluated for C-erb-B2 (HER2/ neu) expression by immunohistochemistry, Western immunoblotting, and fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH). Results. The head and neck cases demonstrated immunohistochemically strong positive staining, whereas tumors from other anatomic locations showed neither positive nor cytoplasmic restricted staining. Antigen-targeted antibody therapy (trastuzumab) was initiated in two patients. Conclusions. These results demonstrate that C-erb-B2 (HER2/neu) may play a role in the tumorigenesis of synovial sarcoma; and, therefore, antigrowth factor therapies may provide a previously unrecognized pharmaceutical approach to soft tissue tumors. The data also suggest that although synovial sarcoma of the head and neck and synovial sarcoma of the extremities have similar morphologic features, they may be clinically and mechanistically distinct entities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)883-892
Number of pages10
JournalHead and Neck
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2005


  • C-erb-B2
  • HER2/neu
  • Synovial sarcoma
  • Trastuzumab

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology


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