Expression of bcl-2 and the progression of human and rodent prostatic cancers

Yuzo Furuya, Stanislaw Krajewski, Jonathan I. Epstein, John C. Reed, John T. Isaacs

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

135 Scopus citations


The frequency of bcl-2 protein expression was evaluated using immunocytochemical staining during the progression of human and rat prostate cancer from an androgen-sensitive nonmetastatic to an androgen-independent metastatic phenotype. Previous studies (A.S. Shabaik et al., J. Urol. Pathol., 3: 17-27, 1995) demonstrated that 0 of 20 high-grade prostatic intraepithelial neoplasias and only 3 (7%) of 41 pathologically localized stage B human prostatic cancers had detectable bcl-2 staining. In the present study, 5 (17%) of 30 lymph node metastases from pathologically disseminated D1 disease and 14 (52%) of 27 bone metastases from pathologically disseminated D2 disease expressed detectable bcl-2 protein. These data demonstrate that there is a statistically significant (P < 0.05) association between expression of bcl-2 and the progression of human prostatic cancer cells to a metastatic phenotype. Such bcl-2 expression is not absolutely required, however, for either androgen independence or metastatic ability by human prostatic cancer cells. Likewise, within a series of eight distinct Dunning R3327 rat prostatic cancer sublines, which differ widely in their progressional state, there is also a significant association (P < 0.05) between bcl-2 expression and progression (four of six androgen-independent rat sublines expressed bcl-2 protein). Again in this rodent system, bcl-2 expression is not an absolute requirement for either androgen independence or metastatic ability. For example, the androgen-independent highly metastatic Dunning AT-3 subline, while expressing bax protein, does not express bcl-2 protein. If such AT-3 cells are genetically engineered to express bcl-2, these expressing cells are now cross-resistant to a variety of mechanistically diverse noxious insults (e.g., viral infection or exposure to antimetabolites, alkylating agents, or agents which elevate the intracellular free Ca2+). The ability of bcl-2 to inhibit the programmed death of AT-3 cells induced by these agents involves a late step in the death process, since the early induction of expression of a series of genes associated with apoptosis is not impaired by bcl-2 expression. These data demonstrate that the development of androgen independence and/or metastatic ability can be associated with the expression of bcl-2 protein but that bcl-2-independent mechanisms also exist for such progression.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)389-398
Number of pages10
JournalClinical Cancer Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1996

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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