Prevalence of p53, bcl-2, and Ki-67 immunoreactivity and of apoptosis in normal oral epithelium and in premalignant and malignant lesions of the oral cavity

J Oral Maxillofac Surg. 2002 May;60(5):532-40. doi: 10.1053/joms.2002.31851.


Purpose: Loss of normal p53 is correlated to the progression of several preneoplastic lesions to neoplasms, and overexpression of bcl-2 determines an alteration of programmed cell death. There is an increased awareness of the importance of apoptosis in cancerogenesis, and a strong correlation of Ki-67 with high tumor grade has been reported.

Materials and methods: The aim of our study was to investigate immunohistochemically the expression and relationship of p53, bcl-2, MIB-1, and the apoptotic index (AI) in normal oral epithelium, leukoplakia, dysplasia, and oral squamous cell carcinoma.

Results: A strong correlation was found between p53 overexpression and cell proliferation (MIB-1) and the AI. An inverse relationship was found between bcl-2 expression and MIB-1 and AI. A significant inverse relationship was found between p53 and bcl-2. A good positive correlation was present between AI and MIB-1 expression.

Conclusions: Apoptosis could be important to help to understand oral carcinogenesis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Apoptosis / physiology*
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / metabolism*
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / pathology
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Epithelium / metabolism
  • Epithelium / pathology
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Ki-67 Antigen / biosynthesis*
  • Leukoplakia, Oral / metabolism*
  • Leukoplakia, Oral / pathology
  • Mouth Mucosa / metabolism
  • Mouth Mucosa / pathology
  • Mouth Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Mouth Neoplasms / pathology
  • Precancerous Conditions / metabolism
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-bcl-2 / biosynthesis*
  • Regression Analysis
  • Statistics, Nonparametric
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53 / biosynthesis*


  • Ki-67 Antigen
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-bcl-2
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53