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Int J Gynecol Pathol. 2002 Oct;21(4):375-82.

Apoptosis-related proteins and steroid hormone receptors in normal, hyperplastic, and neoplastic endometrium.

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Kirikkale University Faculty of Medicine, Kirikkale State Hospital, Turkey.


The purpose of this study was to evaluate the distribution and frequency of apoptosis-related proteins and their correlation with estrogen, progesterone, and androgen receptors in endometrial tissues. Immunohistochemical analyses of bcl-2, bax, bcl-x, and steroid receptors were performed in 22 endometrial carcinomas, 26 endometrial hyperplasias, and 19 cases of normal cyclical endometrium. Bcl-2 was expressed in 45.4% of carcinomas and 92.3% of hyperplasias. Bax immunostaining was found in 90.9% of carcinomas and 76.9% of hyperplasias. Bcl-x positivity was similar in carcinomas (68.1%) and endometrial hyperplasias (76.9%). In normal cyclical endometria, bcl-2 staining was intense and diffuse in the proliferative phase, but decreased dramatically in the early and mid-secretory phase to reappear in the late secretory phase. Bax was expressed throughout the menstrual cycle but more strongly in the secretory phase. Bcl-x displayed a similar degree of expression in proliferative and secretory endometria. Nineteen carcinomas (86.3%), 25 hyperplasias (96.1%), and 18 normal cyclical endometria (94.7%) were positive for estrogen receptor (ER). Progesterone receptor (PR) was observed in 20 carcinomas (90.9%), all hyperplasias (100%), and 18 normal cyclical endometria (94.7%). Androgen receptor (AR) positivity was seen in 7 carcinomas (31.8%), 6 hyperplasias (23.0%), and 3 normal cyclical endometria (15.7%). There was a statistically positive correlation between bcl-x and ER and a tendency toward significant correlation between bcl-x and PR and between ER and PR in carcinomas. In hyperplasias, there was a significant positive correlation between bcl-2 and PR and between bcl-2 and bax and a negative correlation between ER and bax. There was a statistically significant difference for bcl-2 (p = 0.001) and bax (p = 0.001) between the hyperplasia and carcinoma groups. There was increased expression of bax, decreased expression of bcl-2, and persistence of bcl-x protein in advanced endometrial carcinomas. Our findings show that ovarian hormones have a regulatory role on bcl-2 protein and that there is a correlation between other members of the bcl-2 family (bcl-x and bax) and steroid hormone receptors. Bax/bcl-x may be the major control mechanisms of apoptosis in advanced carcinomas; other members of the bcl-2 family may also be under hormonal control.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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