Clinicopathologic analysis of bcl-2 immunostaining in breast carcinoma

Daniel W. Visscher, F. Sarkar, P. Tabaczka, J. Crissman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Tissue sections of 81 breast carcinomas and 19 benign breast tissues were immunostained with a monoclonal antibody to the bcl-2 gene product, a cytoplasmic protein that regulates apoptosis. The degree of immunoreactivity was then compared with clinicopathologic parameters and to immunostaining for mutated p53 gene product. Immunoreactivity for bcl-2 was present consistently in lymphocyte populations and in residual benign lobules. Apocrine metaplasia (n = 6) and lactating breast (n = 1) exhibited minimal bcl-2 expression, whereas duct hyperplasia (n = 10) showed staining of cells primarily at the periphery of the involved structure and adenosis (n = 7) displayed staining in a majority of cells. Neoplastic epithelial bcl-2 immunoreactivity was negative or minimally positive (staining in 1-5% of cells) in 42% of cases, heterogeneous (staining in 6-30% of cells) in 27% of cases, and diffuse (> 30% of cells) in 31% of cases. Immunostaining for bcl-2 correlated with the presence of estrogen receptor (bcl-2 negative, 16% estrogen receptor positive versus bcl-2 positive, 88% estrogen receptor-positive; P < 0.001), with differentiation (bcl-2 negative, 62% poorly differentiated versus bcl-2 positive, 8% poorly differentiated; P < 0.001) and with better disease-free survival (bcl-2 negative, 82% recurrence versus bcl-2 positive, 28% recurrence; P = 0.0001; 52-mo mean follow-up). Immunostaining for p53 in greater than 5% of tumor cells was observed in 39% of cases and was more frequent in bcl-2-negative tumors (18/35, 51%) as opposed to bcl-2-positive tumors (14/46, 30%); P = NS. Disease recurrence correlated with p53 staining, which was observed in 51% of tumors that relapsed versus only 22% of tumors that did not recur. We conclude that bcl-2 is expressed in benign breast tissues that retain proliferative capacity and partial differentiation. Moreover, in neoplastic breast tissue, it is better correlated with a differentiated, 'hormonally responsive,' prognostically favorable phenotype than with disabled p53 gene function.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)642-646
Number of pages5
JournalModern Pathology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 1996


  • Breast carcinoma
  • Immunohistology
  • bcl-2
  • p53

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine


Dive into the research topics of 'Clinicopathologic analysis of bcl-2 immunostaining in breast carcinoma'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this