University of Oulu

Apoptosis and apoptosis regulating proteins and factors in small and large cell lung carcinoma

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Author: Eerola, Anna-Kaisa1
Organizations: 1University of Oulu, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Pathology
Format: ebook
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 2.5 MB)
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Language: English
Published: 1999
Publish Date: 1999-09-30
Thesis type: Doctoral Dissertation
Defence Note: Academic Dissertation to be presented with the assent of the Faculty of Medicine, University of Oulu, for public discussion in the Auditorium of the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, on November 5th, 1999, at 12 noon.
Reviewer: Docent Pekka Klemi
Docent Pertti Lipponen


Aptosis denotes a biochemically and morphologically distinct chain of events leading to self-destruction of cell. It is pivotal in the maintenance of tissue homeostasis and also plays a role in neoplasm. In this work, the extent of apoptosis and apoptosis regulating proteins and factors was studied in a total of 94 patients operated for lung carcinoma, including 56 small cell lung carcinomas (SCLC) and 38 large cell lung carcinomas (LCLC). The extent of apoptosis was determined by detecting and counting the relative and absolute numbers of apoptotic cells and bodies using 3′-end labelling of the apoptotic DNA. The extent of apoptosis in SCLC was compared with the cell proliferation activity as determined by Ki-67 immunohistochemistry, with the volume density of necrosis and with the occurrence of immunohistochemically detectable p53 and bcl-2 proteins. In order to test the hypothesis that increased apoptotic activity is connected with neuroendocrine differentiation and with low differentiation degree in LCLC and that it is regulated by bcl-2 family proteins, the extent of apoptosis and tumour necrosis was analysed in relation to the expression of bcl-2 family proteins bcl-2, mcl-1, bax and bak. Apoptosis, tumour infiltrating lymphocytes (TILs), and angiogenesis are important factors that contribute to tumour growth. In the present study immunohistochemical methods were used to investigate the relationships of these factors and their role in the prognosis of the patients with LCLC and SCLC.

A remarkably high apoptotic activity was detected in both SCLC and LCLC. The mean apoptotic index in SCLC was 2.70% and in LCLC 2.49. Exceptionally high proliferation activity and high percentage of tumour necrosis was seen in SCLC. 58% of SCLC showed more than 40% of Ki-67 positive nuclei, and tumour necrosis was seen in 83% of the cases. P53 protein accumulation was detected in 38% and bcl-2 expression in 50% of SCLC. The extent of apoptosis in SCLC was inversely related to tumour necrosis and p53 protein accumulation. In LCLC, bcl-2 expression was detected in 40% of the cases. It was associated with neuroendocrine differentiation and predicted favourable prognosis of the patients. A high number of T cells and macrophages with a small number of B cells was detected in both SCLC and LCLC. The occurrence of intratumoural cytotoxic CD8 cells was associated with the occurrence of apoptotic bodies in SCLC. The increased number of intratumoural T cells, CD8-positive cells and macrophages predicted favourable prognosis of the patients with SCLC. In LCLC, an increased number of B cells and macrophages, but not T cells, was associated with better survival.

Iaddition to tumour cells, numerous apoptotic bodies could also be found within alveolar macrophages within and close to tumour tissue. In order to test whether such cells could be found in sputum smears and if their presence could be utilised as a marker of malignancy in tumour diagnosis, the occurrence of alveolar macrophages with apoptotic bodies (AMWABs) was analysed in 84 sputum samples and 13 broncho-alveolar lavage (BAL) specimens from patients with and without lung carcinoma. AMWABs could be found in cytological samples of the patients with lung carcinoma. In sputum and BAL specimens, enhanced apoptosis, as measured by an increased number of AMWABs reflected and was indicative of malignancy. This was also true for cytological specimens of the patients even when the actual malignant cells were not found. Therefore the AMWABs served as a marker of pulmonary malignancy.

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Series: Acta Universitatis Ouluensis. D, Medica
ISSN-E: 1796-2234
ISBN: 951-42-5406-6
ISBN Print: 951-42-5405-8
Issue: 553
Copyright information: © University of Oulu, 1999. This publication is copyrighted. You may download, display and print it for your own personal use. Commercial use is prohibited.