bcl-2 protein expression in melanocytic neoplasms of the skin.
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Since the discovery of bcl-2 proto-oncogene in follicular lymphomas, the protein product has been detected in a variety of normal tissues including skin, where it is expressed in basal keratinocytes. Recent studies indicate that bcl-2 protein is detected in nonlymphoid malignancies such as neuroblastoma and carcinomas of the lung and prostate. This study investigates the presence of bcl-2 protein in benign and malignant melanocytic neoplasms of the skin. Immunohistochemical analysis of bcl-2 protein expression was performed on 39 nevi and 60 malignant melanomas, including 21 metastases. There was diffuse strong immunopositivity for bcl-2 protein in 100% of nevi and 65% (43/60) of primary and metastatic melanomas. bcl-2 protein was diffusely expressed in 67% (30/39) of primary melanomas and 54% (11/21) of metastases. Although bcl-2 immunoreactivity was observed in all levels of primary cutaneous malignant melanomas, in 43% (9/21) of deep melanomas (Clark level > or = III), and 100% (7/7) of thick tumors (thickness > or = 4.00 mm), there was focal loss of immunoreactivity. Metastatic melanomas showed focal loss of bcl-2 expression in 10% (2/21) of cases and total loss of bcl-2 protein in 39% (8/21). We conclude from our results that bcl-2 protein is expressed by benign and malignant melanocytic tumors of the skin, but there is loss of bcl-2 protein expression with increasing tumor progression.
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