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The role of bcl-2 expression in solid tumours is as yet undefined. It was, therefore, the purpose of this study to investigate expression of bcl-2 protein in 111 human breast carcinomas using immunohistochemistry and the monoclonal antibody bcl-2 124. Expression was then compared with the established indicators of prognosis and biological behaviour in malignant breast disease. No relationship could be observed between bcl-2 and node status, tumour size, differentiation, type or age at excision. However, a strong positive relationship was seen between bcl-2 and oestrogen receptor (ER), with 70 of 88 (80%) bcl-2-positive tumours being ER positive also, compared with seven of 23 (30%) bcl-2-negative tumours being ER positive (P < 0.0001). The converse was found when bcl-2 was compared with epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR). A strong negative relationship was observed, with 26 of 88 (30%) bcl-2-positive tumours being EGFR positive, compared with 16 of 23 (70%) bcl-2-negative tumours being EGFR positive (P = 0.001), raising the possibility that bcl-2 is an ER-regulated gene. An inverse relationship was also found between bcl-2 and the oncogenes c-erbB-2 and p53. Thus, loss of bcl-2 expression in breast cancer is associated with a range of molecular markers of poor prognosis and may define part of an ER-negative, EGFR-positive phenotype.

Original publication




Journal article


Br J Cancer

Publication Date





135 - 139


Breast, Breast Neoplasms, Carcinoma in Situ, ErbB Receptors, Humans, Immunohistochemistry, Lymphatic Metastasis, Neoplasms, Hormone-Dependent, Proto-Oncogene Proteins, Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-bcl-2, Receptors, Estrogen, Tissue Distribution, Tumor Suppressor Protein p53