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Br J Cancer. 1998 Jul;78(1):100-5.

Bax expression has prognostic significance that is enhanced when combined with AgNOR counts in glottic carcinomas.

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  • 1Department of Otolaryngology, The National Hospital, Rikshospitalet, University of Oslo, Norway.


Using nucleolar organizer regions (NORs) as a proliferative marker and Bax expression as a marker for apoptosis, we have studied the individual and combined prognostic significance of these markers. Successive sections of diagnostic, formalin-fixed and paraffin-embedded specimens from 69 patients with T1-4 tumours were stained with a rabbit anti-human Bax polyclonal antibody and silver nitrate for visualization of NORs (AgNORs). After classification for staining intensity and the percentage of Bax expression, a final score resulting in four classes of increasing Bax expression was obtained. AgNOR counts were expressed as mean counts (mAgNOR) and the percentage of tumour nuclei with more than one AgNOR (pAgNOR>1). Both AgNOR parameters were grouped in three classes with increasing values. Low Bax scores correlated significantly with poor prognosis (P = 0.0106). For mAgNOR and pAgNOR>1, high values correlated with poor prognosis (P = 0.0185 and P = 0.0003 respectively). A combined parameter, for which the Bax score was subtracted from the AgNOR scores, appeared to be statistically stronger than the individual parameters (P < 0.0001). Both Bax expression and AgNOR scores, and in particular the combination of these parameters, appear to be strong prognostic markers in glottic squamous cell carcinomas.

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