AIMS: To evaluate a possible association between clinical outcome in patients with glioblastoma and expression of some immunohistochemical variables and apoptosis. METHODS: 168 selected patients with cerebral glioblastomas were studied retrospectively. Tumour specimens were examined immunohistochemically with antibodies to proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA), p53, bcl-2, and epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) to detect the intracellular receptor domain. Apoptosis was detected by in situ end labelling. Multivariate analysis was performed using the Cox proportional hazard model. RESULTS: On univariate analysis the PCNA labelling index, immunoexpression of EGFR, and the apoptotic index were significantly related to glioblastoma outcome. Survival time was reduced as PCNA labelling index increased and apoptotic index decreased (p = 0.0073 and p = 0.00031, respectively). Survival time in patients with EGFR positive tumours was found to be reduced (p = 0.00024). Multivariate analysis showed independent prognostic value for the EGFR positivity and apoptotic index only (p = 0.0053 and p = 0.0039, respectively). There was no association between clinical outcome of glioblastoma and p53 or bcl-2 immunostaining. CONCLUSIONS: EGFR immunoreactivity and apoptotic index were found to be useful for assessing prognosis of individual glioblastomas but it seems unlikely that p53 and bcl-2 immunohistochemistry will be of value in determining survival in such patients.
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