Apoptosis-associated proteins and the development of oral squamous cell carcinoma ORAL ONCOLOGY Schoelch, M. L., Le, Q. T., Silverman, S., McMillan, A., Dekker, N. P., Fu, K. K., Ziober, B. L., Regezi, J. A. 1999; 35 (1): 77-85


Expression of apoptosis-associated proteins was evaluated in premalignant and malignant oral epithelial lesions, to test the hypothesis that protein regulation of apoptosis may be altered in the development of oral squamous cell carcinoma. Ninety archived paraffin-embedded specimens from 25 patients (two or more sequential biopsies each) and eight control specimens were evaluated in immunohistochemically stained sections for tumor suppressor protein p53, p53 binding protein mdm-2, and apoptosis regulatory proteins Bcl-2, Bcl-X, Bax, and Bak. The initial histologic diagnosis for 17/25 patients was either focal keratosis, mild dysplasia, or moderate dysplasia; the initial diagnosis for the remaining eight patients ranged from severe dysplasia to moderately differentiated squamous cell carcinoma. Thirty of 90 specimens showed positive p53 expression, nine of which were dysplasias. In patients with one or more lesions displaying p53 expression, there was increased intensity of staining with disease progression. Bak was expressed in 57/90 specimens, including 27 dysplasias of various grades. There was also a significantly increased intensity of Bak staining with disease progression, which did not appear to be dependent upon p53 status. Bcl-X was expressed in 73/90 specimens, with staining displayed earlier in premalignant lesions than either p53 or Bak. Ten of 90 specimens were positive for Bcl-2 (all were dysplasias or carcinomas), and only 2/90 specimens were positive for Bax. Eleven of 90 specimens were positive for mdm-2; six of which were also positive for p53. These data show that apoptosis-associated proteins are altered in variable patterns in both premalignant and malignant oral epithelial lesions. p53 and especially Bak and Bcl-X are expressed early; Bax is largely absent; and Bcl-2 and mdm-2 show sporadic expression in the development of oral premalignant and malignant disease.

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