Similar to other cell processes, the balance between cell survival and cell death is an important equilibrium that when altered expression of genes can lead to a variety of disease. For example, too little cell death can promote cell overgrowth and eventually cancer, whereas too much cell death can lead to neurodegeneration (among other things). Bcl-2 in particular is a pro-survival protein that is part of the Bcl-2 family of proteins, consisting of Bax, Bid, PUMA, and Noxa. While overexpression of Bcl-2 has rescued cells from certain toxic stimuli, such as hypoxia, of greater interest is its ability to prevent cell death during a chemotherapeutic treatment and its resistance to these drugs. In fact, an upregulation of Bcl-2 family member proteins has been used as a light prognostic factor in diagnosing certain cancers. Given this information, the use of Bcl-2 primary antibodies in research has been successful in elucidating the molecular basis of cancers, and also in testing potential anticancer drugs.
Bcl-2 was detected in immersion fixed paraffin-embedded sections of human breast cancer tissue using 15 µg/mL Goat Anti-Human/Mouse Bcl-2 Antigen Affinity-purified Polyclonal Antibody (Catalog # AF810) overnight at 4 °C. Tissue was stained (red) and counterstained with hematoxylin (blue).
One study by Hagemann et al set out to identify which proteins, such as Bcl-2, were upregulated in cervical cancer in order to discover a potential therapeutic target. First, cervical cancer tissue specimens from 25 samples with clear tumor cell islands went through micro dissection protocols to prep for immunohistochemical analysis and Taqman Low-Density Arrays. Using the Taqman assay they found that overall Bcl-2 levels in these micro dissections showed no statistically different change minus a slight downregulation in lymph node micrometastases. Next, A Bcl-2 antibody was used in immunohistochemical analysis to visualize expression levels. Similar to the Taqman assay, the Bcl-2 antibody did not show any conclusive results. However, there was a marked upregulation of AKT in these metastases, suggesting a role for epithelial-mesenchymal transition of cervical cells in cervical cancer.
A Bcl-2 antibody was also used in a study done by Rong-Jane Chen et al during their research on the carcinogen 2,3,7,8-Tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (or TCDD) and its effect on lung tumor progression. Given that TCDD is known for inhibiting STS-induced apoptosis, the levels of STS-induced apoptosis were measured at basal levels, STS-induced levels, and STS-induction with the addition of TCDD. Their results proved that there was a significant decrease in apoptosis in the STS-induced + TCDD treatment model. In fact, a Bcl-2 antibody confirmed that in the STS-induced + TCDD treatment model there was also an upregulation of Bcl-2. All in all, using Bcl-2 antibodies in cancer research can be applied to identify potential treatment targets or to confirm anti-apoptotic behavior in a cancer model.