bcl-2 vs p53 Protein expression and apoptotic rate in human nonmelanoma skin cancers

Norbert M. Wikonkal, Rob J.W. Berg, Christian W. Van Haselen, Irene Horkay, Eva Remenyik, Agnes Begany, Janos Hunyadi, Willem A. Van Vloten, Frank R. De Gruijl

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Background: A failure in the apoptotic response after severe genomic damage could facilitate cell transformation and tumor development, and a constitutive overexpression of either p53 or bcl-2 protein in nonapoptotic tumor cells could signify a defective bax-mediated apoptosis. Objectives: To investigate whether a negative correlation occurs between these 2 proteins in nonmelanoma skin cancer and whether overexpression of either protein is associated with a low rate of spontaneous apoptosis. Design: Immunohistochemical study of nonmelanoma skin cancer archive material. Setting: University referral center. Patients: White patients with tumors on sun-exposed skin areas (ie, 17 basal cell carcinomas and 22 squamous cell carcinomas). Main Outcome Measures: Positivity for p53 and bcl-2 were scored semiquantitatively on 4 levels, and the percentages of apoptotic cells were determined. Results: A significant negative correlation between p53 and bcl- 2 expression was found in the basal cell carcinomas, but not in the squamous cell carcinomas, largely attributable to the low level of bcl-2 staining in the squamous cell carcinomas. Squamous cell carcinomas have a significantly higher number of apoptotic cells than basal cell carcinomas: 1.1% vs 0.6%, respectively. This spontaneous apoptosis decreases with increasing bcl-2 (in basal cell carcinoma), whereas it does not appear to be related to p53 level expression. Conclusions: These results indicate that a disturbance in either p53 or bcl-2 suffices to enhance skin tumor formation by suppressing apoptosis; bcl-2 appears to reduce the rate of spontaneous apoptosis, but an aberrant p53 expression does not, and this factor may solely affect the apoptosis from exogenous genotoxicity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)599-602
Number of pages4
JournalArchives of Dermatology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2 1997


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Dermatology

Cite this

Wikonkal, N. M., Berg, R. J. W., Van Haselen, C. W., Horkay, I., Remenyik, E., Begany, A., Hunyadi, J., Van Vloten, W. A., & De Gruijl, F. R. (1997). bcl-2 vs p53 Protein expression and apoptotic rate in human nonmelanoma skin cancers. Archives of Dermatology, 133(5), 599-602.