BCL-2: pro-or anti-oxidant?

Front Biosci (Elite Ed). 2009 Jun 1;1:263-8. doi: 10.2741/s13.


Bcl-2 is recognized as an oncoprotein via its ability to impede death signaling by sequestrating pro-apoptotic proteins such as Bax and Bak as well as preserving mitochondrial outer membrane integrity. Recently, a growing body of evidence has evaluated the role of Bcl-2 in intracellular redox regulation and its downstream effects on life and death decisions in cancer cells. On the backdrop of these findings, we discuss here the classical anti-apoptotic role of Bcl-2 in malignant cells, and review the significance of Bcl-2-mediated regulation of tumor redox status. We discuss recent evidence that underscores a paradigm shift in the way cellular redox status impacts cell fate decisions via the effect of Bcl-2 on mitochondrial physiology. The ability of Bcl-2 to promote, modulate and optimize mitochondrial respiration under different redox states highlights the importance of mitochondrial bioenergetics, ROS and the roles they might play in the onset and/or maintenance of oncogenesis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Apoptosis / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Mitochondria / physiology*
  • Models, Biological*
  • Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-bcl-2 / metabolism*
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / metabolism*


  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-bcl-2
  • Reactive Oxygen Species