bcl-2 in normal human breast and carcinoma, association with oestrogen receptor-positive, epidermal growth factor receptor-negative tumours and in situ cancer

Br J Cancer. 1994 Jan;69(1):135-9. doi: 10.1038/bjc.1994.22.


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.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Breast / chemistry*
  • Breast / physiology
  • Breast / ultrastructure*
  • Breast Neoplasms / chemistry*
  • Breast Neoplasms / genetics
  • Breast Neoplasms / ultrastructure*
  • Carcinoma in Situ / chemistry*
  • Carcinoma in Situ / genetics
  • Carcinoma in Situ / ultrastructure*
  • ErbB Receptors / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Lymphatic Metastasis
  • Neoplasms, Hormone-Dependent / chemistry*
  • Neoplasms, Hormone-Dependent / genetics
  • Neoplasms, Hormone-Dependent / ultrastructure*
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins / analysis*
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins / genetics
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins / physiology
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-bcl-2
  • Receptors, Estrogen / physiology*
  • Tissue Distribution
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53 / analysis
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53 / genetics
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53 / physiology


  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-bcl-2
  • Receptors, Estrogen
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53
  • ErbB Receptors