JOURNAL ARTICLE
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Bcl-2 receptor expression in patients with uterine smooth muscle tumors: an immunohistochemical analysis comparing leiomyoma, uterine smooth muscle tumor of uncertain malignant potential, and leiomyosarcoma.

OBJECTIVE: Bcl-2 protein is an apoptosis-inhibiting gene product that prevents the normal course of apoptotic cell death in a variety of cells. Additionally, bcl-2 can promote cell replication by reducing the requirement for growth factors. This protein seems, therefore, to play an important role in the growth of tumors. Our aim was to investigate the different expression of bcl-2 in uterine leiomyomas, smooth muscle tumors of uncertain malignant potential (STUMP), and leiomyosarcomas (LMS). Furthermore, the correlation between bcl-2 expression and various clinicopathologic parameters in leiomyosarcomas was assessed to evaluate its prognostic value.

METHODS: This study included 26 cases of leiomyoma, 22 cases of STUMP, and 21 cases of LMS of the uterus. Bcl-2 expression was investigated by immunohistochemistry from paraffin-embedded tissue. The immunohistochemical findings were compared and correlated with different clinicopathologic parameters. Clinical information, including follow-up data, was obtained from the database of the Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics.

RESULTS: Bcl-2 was present in 12 of 21 LMS, eight of 22 STUMP, and 20 of 25 leiomyomas. Significant differences regarding the frequency of bcl-2 expression and the staining intensity were observed between LMS and leiomyoma as well as between STUMP and leiomyoma (P <.05) but not between LMS and STUMP (P >.05). Regarding the outcome of uterine LMS, patients with bcl-2 positive tumors showed less vascular space involvement and longer overall survival (P <.05).

CONCLUSION: Bcl-2 was expressed more frequently and more strongly in leiomyomas compared with LMS and STUMP. Regarding the outcome of uterine LMS, patients with bcl-2-positive tumors showed less vascular space involvement and longer overall survival. The stronger bcl-2 expression in benign leiomyomas and the better clinical outcome of bcl-2-positive LMS indicate that this protein seems to act as a good prognostic factor. Further studies including larger numbers of patients are necessary to establish bcl-2 as a routine marker for improved prognosis in malignant uterine smooth muscle tumors.

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