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Bcl-2 immunoreactivity in salivary gland neoplasms is unrelated to the expression of mRNA for natural killer cell stimulatory cytokines interleukin (IL)-2 and IL-12

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Certain cytokines are involved in the generation of natural killer (NK) cells and participate in the regulation of the proto-oncogene bcl-2. We aimed to study the mRNA expression of interleukin (IL) -2, IL-4 and IL-5, the composition of the tumour infiltrating lymphocytes (TIL), and the expression of bcl-2 in 14 benign and malignant human parotid tumours. T IL were predominantly composed of T lymphocytes and NK cells. We found evidence for the homing of T cells, and for generation of NK cells in the vicinity of the tumours. mRNA for IL-2 and IL-12, were identified but IL-4 mRNA was not found. The cytokine profiles and the composition of TIL of the two tumour categories were indistinguishable, suggesting that these host-response variables do not explain the differences in biological behaviour of these particular tumours. The results support a shift towards Th1 (T helper 1) cells and interferon-γ production, and that IL-12 also in vivo may play an important role in the regulatory interaction between innate resistance and adaptive immunity in tumour diseases. Most infiltrating lymphocytes showed strong expression of bcl-2; an interesting observation with regard to lymphocytic apoptosis in neoplastic diseases. The immunoreactivity fot the bcl-2 protein varied considerably between and within tumours, and almost all benign tumours showed strong bcl-2 positively whereas several of the malignant tumours showed weak or absent staining. The variable expression of bcl-2 protein suggests a different susceptibility of tumour cells to apoptosis. The results also indicate that bcl-2 cannot play a major role as protective agent in the specific apoptotic pathway induced by NK cells.

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Correspondence to H. B. Hellquist.

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Hellquist, H.B., Karlsson, M.G., Karlsson, C. et al. Bcl-2 immunoreactivity in salivary gland neoplasms is unrelated to the expression of mRNA for natural killer cell stimulatory cytokines interleukin (IL)-2 and IL-12. Vichows Archiv A Pathol Anat 429, 149–158 (1996). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00192437

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Key words

  • Salivary gland neoplasms
  • Cytokines
  • bcl-2
  • Apoptosis
  • NK cells