Immunolocalization of the Bcl-2 protein within hematopoietic neoplasms

M. Zutter, D. Hockenbery, G. A. Silverman, S. J. Korsmeyer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

159 Scopus citations


The Bcl-2 proto-oncogene was discovered at the t(14;18) breakpoint found in most follicular B-cell lymphomas and some diffuse large-cell lymphomas. Bcl-2 is unique among proto-oncogenes, being localized to mitochondria and extending cell survival by blocking programmed cell death. We examined Bcl-2 protein expression in 82 hematologic malignancies and reactive lymphoid processes. All lymphomas with Bcl-2 rearrangement demonstrated high levels of Bcl-2 protein. However, most follicular and diffuse lymphomas without Bcl-2 rearrangement also displayed intense Bcl-2 staining. In these cases, mechanisms other than classic translocation may be deregulating Bcl-2. The pattern of Bcl-2 staining in follicular lymphoma is the inverse of the pattern in reactive hyperplasia, confirming a role for Bcl-2 immunolocalization in routine diagnosis. Small lymphocytic malignancies, including small lymphocytic lymphoma, mantle zone lymphoma, and chronic lymphocytic leukemia, expressed intermediate levels of Bcl-2. Bcl-2 protein varied in plasma cell dyscrasias. Bcl-2 protein levels in T-cell lymphomas reflected their corresponding stage of development. No substantial Bcl-2 was present in the Reed-Sternberg cells of nodular sclerosing Hodgkin's disease. Chronic myelogenous leukemia was strongly positive for Bcl-2, consistent with the presence of Bcl-2 in normal myeloid progenitors. Immunohistochemistry identified an expanded spectrum of hematopoietic neoplasms in which Bcl-2 may provide a cell survival advantage.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1062-1068
Number of pages7
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jan 1 1991


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