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Chromosomal changes in uroepithelial carcinomas

Imad Fadl-Elmula

Author Affiliations

Al Neelain Medical Research Center, Faculty of Medicine, Al Neelain University, Khartoum, Sudan

Cell & Chromosome 2005, 4:1  doi:10.1186/1475-9268-4-1

Published: 7 August 2005


This article reviews and summarizes chromosomal changes responsible for the initiation and progression of uroepithelial carcinomas. Characterization of these alterations may lead to a better understanding of the genetic mechanisms and open the door for molecular markers that can be used for better diagnosis and prognosis of the disease. Such information might even help in designing new therapeutic strategies geared towards prevention of tumor recurrences and more aggressive approach in progression-prone cases.

The revision of 205 cases of uroepithelial carcinomas reported with abnormal karyotypes showed karyotypic profile characterized by nonrandom chromosomal aberrations varying from one or few changes in low-grade and early stage tumors to massively rearranged karyotypes in muscle invasive ones. In general, the karyotypic profile was dominated by losses of chromosomal material seen as loss of entire chromosome and/or deletions of genetic materials. Rearrangements of chromosome 9 resulting in loss of material from 9p, 9q, or of the entire chromosome were the most frequent cytogenetic alterations, seen in 45% of the cases. Whereas loss of material from chromosome arms 1p, 8p, and 11p, and gains of chromosome 7, and chromosome arm 1q, and 8q seem to be an early, but secondary, changes appearing in superficial and well differentiated tumors, the formation of an isochromosome for 5p and loss of material from 17p are associated with more aggressive tumor phenotypes. Upper urinary tract TCCs have identical karyotypic profile to that of bladder TCCs, indicating the same pathogenetic mechanisms are at work in both locales. Intratumor cytogenetic heterogeneity was not seen except in a few post-radiation uroepithelial carcinomas in which distinct karyotypic and clonal pattern were characterized by massive intratumor heterogeneity (cytogenetic polyclonality) with near-diploid clones and simple balanced and/or unbalanced translocations. In the vast majority of cases strong correlation between the tumors grade/stage and karyotypic complexity was seen, indicating that progressive accumulation of acquired genetic alterations is the driving force behind multistep bladder TCC carcinogenesis. Although most of these cytogenetic alterations have been identified for many years, the molecular consequences and relevant cancer genes of these alterations have not yet been identified. However, loss of TSG(s) from chromosome 9 seems to be the primary and important event(s) in uroepithelial carcinogenesis