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Mod Pathol. 1996 Apr;9(4):430-8.

bcl-2 is down-regulated in atypical endometrial hyperplasia and adenocarcinoma.

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Department of Pathology, University of Utah Health Sciences Center, Salt Lake City, USA.


The bcl-2 protein, which protects cells from apoptosis, is normally expressed in a number of adult tissues. Dysregulated bcl-2 expression, secondary to (14;18) chromosomal translocation, seems to promote the development of follicular lymphomas, and recent findings of bcl-2 protein in several solid tumors suggest that it might contribute to the genesis of many other neoplasms. bcl-2 is also highly expressed in normal proliferative endometrium and markedly down-regulated in secretory endometrium, which suggests that its expression is estrogen regulated. Because the development of most endometrial carcinomas is associated with hyperestrogenic states, we began the investigation of the role of bcl-2 in endometrial carcinogenesis by immunohistochemically quantifying its expression in proliferative, hyperplastic, atypically hyperplastic, and carcinomatous endometrium. The results of this study show that bcl-2 is relatively highly expressed in proliferative (n = 11) and hyperplastic (n = 18) endometrium, with respective mean staining scores of 3.59 and 3.47 (scale, 0-4), but is significantly (P < 0.001) down-regulated in atypical hyperplasia (n = 11; score, 0.82), and adenocarcinoma (n = 34; score, 0.86). bcl-2 expression did not correlate with stage, grade, estrogen-receptor, or progesterone-receptor expression. Polymerase chain reaction analyses of DNA isolated from several endometrial carcinomas were negative for (14;18) translocation involving the bcl-2 gene. Thus, bcl-2 apparently plays no role in the progression of atypical hyperplasia to carcinoma or in the development of high-grade or advanced-stage endometrial carcinoma. These results, however, do not rule out the involvement of bcl-2 in very early, preatypical hyperplasia phases of endometrial carcinogenesis. Finally, the marked difference in bcl-2 expression in hyperplastic and atypically hyperplastic glands might prove to be diagnostically useful in the often difficult distinction of these entities.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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