Role of bcl-2 oncoprotein in oral potentially malignant disorders and squamous cell carcinoma: an immunohistochemical study

V M Sudha, S Hemavathy
Indian Journal of Dental Research: Official Publication of Indian Society for Dental Research 2011, 22 (4): 520-5

BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: The product of bcl-2 gene, bcl-2 protein, an anti-apoptotic protein, is known to be over-expressed in potentially malignant disorders and squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) of the oral cavity. The aim of this study is to compare the topographical aspect and degree of bcl-2 over-expression in potentially malignant disorders including leukoplakia, oral submucous fibrosis (OSMF), and oral lichen planus (OLP), with that of the oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC), and to determine whether bcl-2 protein can be considered as a tumor marker.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: A group of 60 histo-pathologically diagnosed, formalin-fixed, paraffin embedded tissue samples was included in the study. The study group was further subdivided into four groups: Group I, consisting of oral leukoplakia; Group II, OSMF; Group III, OLP and Group IV, OSCC. These samples were collected from Government Dental College, Bangalore, and then subjected to immunohistochemical (IHC) staining using indirect immunoenzyme labeled streptavidin biotin (LSAB) method.

RESULTS: Out of 30 cases of OSCC: 11 (36.7%) cases showed greater supra-basal keratinocyte staining; 15 (50%) cases showed greater number of positive cells in the basal cell layer, with relatively less number of supra-basal cells showing positive staining; and, rest of the 4 (13.3%) cases did not show convincing staining. Among the total 30 cases of potentially malignant disorders: 10 each of leukoplakia, OSMF and OLP, 2 (20%), 2 (20%), 4 (40%) of the cases showed greater supra-basal cell layer positive staining and 8 (80%), 6 (60%), 6 (60%) of them showed greater basal cell staining, respectively. Two cases of OSMF did not show convincing staining. In the cases that were bcl-2 positive: 2 (6.67%) of the OSCC, 3 (30%) of leukoplakia, 2 (20%) of OSMF and 1 (10%) of OLP, showed more than 50% of the cells positive. 25-50% cells were positive in 21 (70%) of OSCC, 6 (60%) of leukoplakia, 4 (40%) of OSMF and 6 (60%) of OLP cases. 10-25% of cells were positive in 4 (13.3%) of OSCC, 1(10%) of leukoplakia, 2 (20%) of OSMF and 3 (30%) of OLP cases. Less than 10% of cells were positive in 3 (10%) of OSCC and 2 (20%) of OSMF cases. CLINICAL SIGNIFICANCE AND CONCLUSION: As definite number of cases showed bcl-2 over expression in our study, the role of bcl-2 in the development and progression of oral neoplasia needs further investigation along with other oncogenes.

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