Clinical chemistry and laboratory medicine

The quantification of HER2 and MYC gene fragments in cell-free plasma as putative biomarkers for gastric cancer diagnosis.

PMID 24670359


This study aimed to investigate the significance of circulating HER2 and MYC gene fragments quantification in the diagnosis of gastric cancer. Levels of HER2 and MYC genes were evaluated by fluorescence in situ hybridization and real-time PCR in 81 gastric cancer tissues, and by real-time PCR in 36 gastritis tissues. Real-time PCR for HER2 and MYC products was also performed on 184 plasma samples from 81 gastric cancers, eight gastric adenomas, 63 gastritis patients, and 32 healthy individuals. HER2/HBB and MYC/HBB ratios in tissue and cell-free plasma from gastric cancer patients were significantly higher than those of gastritis tissue and cancer-free individuals. An optimized cut-off value of plasma target gene to HBB ratio, used to differentiate cancer patients from cancer-free individuals, was evaluated using receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curves. Values of 2.0 were calculated for HER2 [area under the ROC curve (AUC), 0.760] and 2.725 for MYC (AUC, 0.767). A combination model of HER2 and MYC provided a better differentiation condition than that for HER2 or MYC only (AUC, 0.850). HER2/HBB ratios in plasma from gastric cancer patients correlated with MYC/HBB ratios. Our findings suggest that the measurement of plasma HER2 and MYC gene levels could improve the screening of gastric cancer.