Send to

Choose Destination
Blood. 2017 Jul 27;130(4):489-500. doi: 10.1182/blood-2016-12-759621. Epub 2017 May 18.

BCL2 expression in DLBCL: reappraisal of immunohistochemistry with new criteria for therapeutic biomarker evaluation.

Author information

Division of Pathology, The Cancer Institute, Japanese Foundation for Cancer Research, Tokyo, Japan.
Department of Comprehensive Pathology, Graduate School of Medical and Dental Sciences, Tokyo Medical and Dental University, Tokyo, Japan.
Pathology Project for Molecular Targets.
Department of Hematology Oncology, and.
Clinical Research Center, The Cancer Institute Hospital, Japanese Foundation for Cancer Research, Tokyo, Japan; and.
Division of Hematology and Oncology, Department of Internal Medicine, St. Marianna University School of Medicine, Kanagawa, Japan.


Overexpression of the BCL2 is associated with a poor prognosis in diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL). The assessment of MYC immunohistochemistry (IHC) is becoming optimized, whereas the criteria for BCL2 positivity are highly variable. Furthermore, data on the frequency and prognostic value of BCL2 positivity are conflicting. We aimed to evaluate BCL2 expression by IHC and assess the prognostic significance of the histopathologically scored BCL2 expression in 456 patients with DLBCL uniformly treated with standard immunochemotherapy (rituximab plus cyclophosphamide, doxorubicin, vincristine, and prednisone, R-CHOP). We initially designed 4-grade BCL2 scoring criteria, from 0 to 3+, and found that ∼40% of DLBCL showed strong BCL2 expression (score 3+). The scores from the pathologist's visual estimation were confirmed to be reliable using a digital image analysis. A retrospective survival analysis revealed that BCL2 score 3+ was a significant prognostic factor independent of the international prognostic index (IPI), the IHC-determined cell of origin, and the MYC protein/rearrangement status in a training set (n = 218). The adverse prognostic impact of BCL2 score 3+ was confirmed in a validation set (n = 238). We also developed a prognostic model consisting of 3 groups with a combined BCL2 score and MYC protein/rearrangement status. Patients with BCL2 score 3+ showed a higher treatment failure rate; therefore, alternative therapeutic strategies should be considered for these patients. A highly selective BCL2 inhibitor, venetoclax, was recently introduced as breakthrough therapy. Our BCL2 scoring system could readily be used by pathologists to evaluate patients with DLBCL who might benefit from BCL2-targeted therapies.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free full text

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for HighWire
Loading ...
Support Center