Apoptosis, mitosis, PCNA and bcl-2 in normal, leukoplakic and malignant epithelia of the human oral cavity: Prospective, in vivo study

M. A. Birchall, E. Schock, B. V. Harmon, G. Gobé

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

42 Scopus citations


Disordered balance between proliferation and apoptosis may contribute to carcinogenesis. Thirty-two oral biopsies were collected prospectively: 10 normal (N), 10 leukoplakia (dysplasia, D=5; hyperplasia, H=5) and 12 squamous cell carcinoma (C: 11). Distant normal tissue was also collected (HN, DN, CN). Based on counts of 1000 cell/slide, mitotic (MI), apoptotic (AI) and proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA: PI) indices were calculated and bcl-2 expression recorded. AI correlated with MI (P<0.001), but not PI or bcl-2 expression. PCNA was higher in H and HN than other groups (P<0.0001). bcl-2 was reduced in C and CN (P<0.001). Peak mitosis shifted basally in dysplasia, whilst peak apoptosis remained unaltered. These data confirm topographical alterations in proliferation relative to apoptosis in dysplasia of the oral cavity. Reduced bcl-2 in carcinoma and related 'normal' epithelium was unexpected and may contribute to the high incidence of metachronous carcinomas in these patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)419-425
Number of pages7
JournalOral Oncology
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1997
Externally publishedYes



  • Apoptosis
  • Bcl-2
  • Carcinoma
  • Dysplasia
  • Hyperplasia
  • Mitosis
  • PCNA

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology

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