Expression of Bcl-2 and p53 correlates with the morphology of gastric neoplasia

J Pathol. 1998 Apr;184(4):382-9. doi: 10.1002/(SICI)1096-9896(199804)184:4<382::AID-PATH1232>3.0.CO;2-F.


The growth of a tumour can be determined by an interplay between cell proliferation and loss. The expression of apoptosis-related proteins (Bcl-2 and p53), cell proliferation (Ki-67), and apoptotic cell death were investigated using immunohistochemistry and terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase-mediated dUTP-biotin nick end labelling in gastric neoplams, to evaluate whether they correlate with the morphology of the tumour. The materials included ten cases of gastric adenoma and 40 cases of early gastric carcinoma consisting of differentiated adenocarcinomas (n = 20) and undifferentiated carcinomas (n = 20). All cases of adenoma and eight cases of differentiated adenocarcinoma were of the elevated type, while 12 differentiated adenocarcinomas and all of the undifferentiated carcinomas were of the depressed type. The diffuse expression of Bcl-2 was observed in all cases of adenoma and seven out of eight (88 per cent) of elevated-type differentiated adenocarcinoma. In contrast, Bcl-2 expression was absent or focal in the depressed type of carcinoma. Overexpression of p53 was found exclusively in the depressed type of carcinoma. Thus, Bcl-2 and p53 expression was associated with tumour morphology. It seemed unlikely that Bcl-2 and p53 expression was involved in the morphogenesis of the gastric tumours through inhibiting apoptotic cell death, since the degree of apoptosis in Bcl-2-positive gastric tumours was rather higher than that in Bcl-2-negative ones and it did not differ significantly between p53-positive and p53-negative tumours. Instead, the diffuse distribution of Bcl-2 correlated with the superficial distribution of Ki-67-positive proliferating cells, and the overexpression of p53 had a tendency to correlate with the diffuse distribution of proliferating cells. These results suggest that diffuse Bcl-2 expression and a superficial distribution of proliferating cells may contribute to the elevated configuration, and that overexpression of p53 and a diffuse distribution of proliferating cells may result in the depressed configuration in the relatively early stages of gastric tumourigenesis.

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma / metabolism
  • Adenocarcinoma / pathology
  • Adenoma / metabolism
  • Adenoma / pathology
  • Apoptosis / physiology
  • Cell Differentiation / physiology
  • Cell Division / physiology
  • Humans
  • Immunoenzyme Techniques
  • In Situ Hybridization
  • Ki-67 Antigen / metabolism
  • Neoplasm Proteins / metabolism*
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-bcl-2 / metabolism*
  • Stomach Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Stomach Neoplasms / pathology
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53 / metabolism*


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