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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Increased expression of Bcl-2 protein in human uterine leiomyoma and its up-regulation by progesterone.

Uterine leiomyoma is the most common benign smooth muscle cell tumor of the myometrium. Although Bcl-2 protein is known to be an apoptosis-inhibiting gene product and to prevent apoptotic cell death in a variety of cells, there are no published data regarding whether human leiomyomas express Bcl-2 protein. In the present study, we examined the expression of Bcl-2 protein in leiomyomas in comparison with that in the normal myometrium using an immunohistochemical method and immunoblot analysis with a monoclonal antibody to human Bcl-2 protein. Furthermore, we investigated whether sex steroid hormones could influence the levels of Bcl-2 protein expression in leiomyoma cells cultured in vitro under serum-free, phenol red-free conditions. Immunohistochemical staining for Bcl-2 protein was prominent in leiomyoma cells, but was scarcely present in normal myometrial smooth muscle cells. The expression of Bcl-2 protein in leiomyoma cells was most abundant in the secretory, progesterone-dominated, phase of the menstrual cycle, but was less abundant in the proliferative phase of the menstrual cycle. Western blot analyses of leiomyoma and myometrium tissue extracts revealed that Bcl-2 protein, with a molecular mass estimated at approximately 26 kDa, was abundantly present in leiomyoma tissue extracts, but was undetectable in normal myometrial tissue extracts. In monolayer cultures of uterine leiomyoma cells under a serum-free condition, the addition of progesterone (100 ng/mL) resulted in a striking increase in Bcl-2 protein expression in the cultured leiomyoma cells relative to that in control cultures, whereas the addition of 17 beta-estradiol (10 ng/mL) resulted in a reduction in Bcl-2 protein expression in the cells. The concentrations of sex steroids used were within the physiological tissue concentrations found in leiomyomas and myometrium. The present results suggest that the abundant expression of Bcl-2 protein may have a molecular basis characteristic of leiomyomas in the human uterus and that progesterone may play a vital role in the enhanced expression of Bcl-2 protein in human uterine leiomyoma cells.[1]


  1. Increased expression of Bcl-2 protein in human uterine leiomyoma and its up-regulation by progesterone. Matsuo, H., Maruo, T., Samoto, T. J. Clin. Endocrinol. Metab. (1997) [Pubmed]
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