Reliability assessment of soluble c-erbB-2 concentrations in the saliva of healthy women and men.

C Streckfus DDS, L Bigler, PhD, L Copeland DMD

Office of Research, University of Mississippi Medical Center, Jackson, MS.

Aim: The protein c-erbB-2, also known as Her2/neu, is a prognostic breast cancer marker assayed in tissue biopsies. Current studies suggest that soluble fragments of the c-erbB-2 receptor may be released from the cell surface. Consequently, the purpose of this study is to assay the soluble salivary form of the c-erbB-2 protein of healthy men and women to determine the reliability of the procedure. Methods: To determine the diagnostic utility of this protein, the soluble form of the c-erbB-2 related protein was assayed in the saliva using an ELISA assay. The study population consisted of 10 healthy women and nine healthy men that were serially sampled for saliva three times a day for a five-day period. Saliva was collected from each subject at 9:00 a.m., 4:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m. during the five-day period. Results: We found the presence of c-erbB-2 protein, in the saliva of both groups of subjects. The salivary levels of c-erbB-2 were not significantly higher when compared for gender differences. Likewise, the results suggest that sampling during various times of the day for salivary c-erbB-2 levels have no effect on marker concentration. Reliability analyses revealed that supervised salivary collections were more reliable than non-supervised collections. Conclusions: The results of the pilot study suggest that the assay for salivary c-erbB-2 protein is reliable and may have potential use in the initial detection and/or follow-up screening for the recurrence of breast cancer in both men and women.

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Paper presented at the International Symposium on Predictive Oncology and Intervention Strategies; Paris, France; February 9 - 12, 2002; in the section on Prognostic Markers.

This presentation was a winner in our poster contest and was recognized with the Symposium Presidents' Award for Scientific Excellence.