Open Access Research article

Anti-apoptotic gene transcription signature of salivary gland neoplasms

Carolina Cavaliéri Gomes1*, Vanessa Fátima Bernardes2, Marina Gonçalves Diniz2, Luiz De Marco3 and Ricardo Santiago Gomez2

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Pathology, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Belo Horizonte, Brazil

2 Department of Oral Surgery and Pathology, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Belo Horizonte, Brazil

3 Department of Surgery, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Belo Horizonte, Brazil

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BMC Cancer 2012, 12:61  doi:10.1186/1471-2407-12-61

Published: 7 February 2012



Development of accurate therapeutic approaches to salivary gland neoplasms depends on better understanding of their molecular pathogenesis. Tumour growth is regulated by the balance between proliferation and apoptosis. Few studies have investigated apoptosis in salivary tumours relying almost exclusively on immunohistochemistry or TUNEL assay. Furthermore, there is no information regarding the mRNA expression profile of apoptotic genes in salivary tumors. Our objective was to investigate the quantitative expression of BCL-2 (anti-apoptotic), BAX and Caspase3 (pro-apoptotic genes) mRNAs in salivary gland neoplasms and examine the association of these data with tumour size, proliferative activity and p53 staining (parameters associated with a poor prognosis of salivary tumours patients).


We investigated the apoptotic profile of salivary neoplasms in twenty fresh samples of benign and seven samples of malignant salivary neoplasms, using quantitative real time PCR. We further assessed p53 and ki-67 immunopositivity and obtained clinical tumour size data.


We demonstrated that BCL-2 mRNA is overexpressed in salivary neoplasms, leading to an overall anti-apoptotic profile. We also found an association between the anti-apoptotic index (BCL-2/BAX) with p53 immunoexpression. A higher proliferative activity was found in the malignant tumours. In addition, tumour size was associated with cell proliferation but not with the transcription of apoptotic genes.


In conclusion, we show an anti-apoptotic gene expression profile in salivary neoplasms in association with p53 staining, but independent of cell proliferation and tumour size.

Salivary gland neoplasms; Pleomorphic adenoma; Apoptosis; Bcl-2; Bax; Caspase 3; Transcription; p53; Cell proliferation; Tumour size