Bcl-2, Bcl-x, Bax, and Bak expression in short- and long-lived patients with diffuse large B-cell lymphomas

Osnat Bairey*, Yael Zimra, Mati Shaklai, Elimelech Okon, Esther Rabizadeh

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Long-term cure is now possible for ~50% of all patients with aggressive non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL). Apoptosis-related proteins play an important role in the chemosensitivity or chemoresistance of tumors. We examined the role of Bcl-2 family proteins in aggressive NHL. We retrospectively selected two groups of patients by clinical outcome: 24 patients with chemoresponsive disease and long survival (median, 88 months); and 20 patients with chemoresistant disease and short survival (median, 8 months). The expression of the apoptosis-regulating proteins, Bcl-2, Bcl-X, Bax, and Bak, in the initial biopsy samples was examined with immunohistochemical methods. Specimens containing >10% immunostained tumor cells were considered immunopositive. An inverse association was found between length of patient survival and expression of Bcl-2, Bcl-X, and Bax. Bcl-2 was expressed in 75% of short-lived patients but in only 42% of the long-lived ones (P = 0.026). Bcl-X expression was also higher in the short-lived patients (40% versus 12.5%; P = 0.036). Unexpectedly, Bax expression was strongly associated with short survival (60% versus 21%; P = 0.008). Several combinations of protein expression, i.e., Bcl-2 with Bax, Bcl-2 with Bcl-X, and Bcl-X with Bax, were different between the groups: a positive expression of these proteins was found in the short-lived patients. Furthermore, a strong association was found between the expression of Bcl-2 and Bcl-X, suggesting that BcI-X potentiates rather than replaces the effect of Bcl-2 in NHL. In diffuse large B-cell NHL, Bcl-2, Bcl-X, and Bax expression alone or in combination is associated with chemoresistance and short-term survival.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2860-2866
Number of pages7
JournalClinical Cancer Research
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1999


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