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Study assessing the quality of quantification of estrogen receptor protein expression by immunohistochemistry and gene expression in breast cancer.

Although immunohistochemistry (IHC) is a widely used technique to classify tumors in ER-positive versus ER-negative ones, interlab variabilities can occur. This study aims to investigate the influences of preanalytical and analytical factors on IHC results. For this purpose, the different steps of the preparation of IHC sections and scoring procedures were compared between two participating laboratories and a central lab. There was a significant positive correlation between the IHC results of the participating laboratories and those of the central lab (correlation coefficient > 0.600; P<0.05). Nevertheless, some discordant cases for immunostaining (5.3% for ER and 5.6% for PR) and for scoring (10.5% for PR) occur at site 1. Comparing IHC results with ESR1 gene expression results revealed a significant positive correlation (correlation coefficients > 0.769; P<0.05). PCR results of ER target genes showed some heterogeneity in the ER-signalling pathway. These results suggest that differences in the IHC procedure between these laboratories did not have a big influence on the end result. Nevertheless, discordant cases caused by preanalytical and analytical lab-specific procedures have been identified.

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