Expression of Bax and Bcl-2 in Tumour Cells and Blood Vessels of Breast Cancer and their Association with Angiogenesis and Hormonal Receptors


A total of 96 cases of invasive breast ductal carcinoma were examined for immunohistochemical expressionof Bax and Bcl-2 in the epithelial tumor cells and endothelial cells of the blood vessels. We also investigated theassociation between both proteins in the epithelium in relation to tumor characteristics such as tumor size, grade,lymph node involvement, microvessel density (MVD), hormonal receptors expression and c-erbB-2 overexpression.Bax expression showed a significant association between tumor and endothelial cells (p<0.001) while Bcl-2expression in tumor cells was inversely associated with that in the endothelial cells (p<0.001). Expression ofBcl-2 in tumor cells was strongly associated with expression of estrogen and progesterone receptors (p=0.003and p=0.004, respectively). In addition, intratumoral MVD was significantly higher than peritumoral MVD(p<0.001) but not associated with Bax or Bcl-2 expression and other tumor characteristics. We concluded thatthe number of endothelial cells undergoing apoptosis was in direct linkage with the number of apoptotic tumorcells. Anti-apoptotic activity of the surviving tumor cells appears to propagate cancer progression and this wasinfluenced by the hormonal status of the cells. Tumor angiogenesis was especially promoted in the intratumoralregion and angiogenesis was independent of anti-apoptotic activity.