Chromosome banding analysis has shown that numerical aberrations, in particular gains of chromosomes 7, 13 and 20, are common in colorectal adenomas but cannot provide reliable information on the size of the abnormal clones in vivo. We examined interphase nuclei from 70 colorectal adenomas, of which 64 had been previously karyotyped, using fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) with probes for the pericentromeric regions of chromosomes 1, 7, 13 and 20. Gain of chromosome 7 was seen in 34% of the analyzed adenomas, +13 was seen in 44% and trisomy 20 was found in 32% of the adenomas, verifying that the trisomies are in vivo phenomena. The median proportion of cells with trisomy was larger than 50%. A comparison with the G-banding analysis showed a good correlation between the results yielded by the 2 methods. Based on the clonal size and karyotypic findings, a likely order of events during clonal evolution could be ascribed to each case. More than 1 numerical aberration was detected by FISH analysis in 16 adenomas. In 6 adenomas, a clone with only trisomy 7 was present alongside a clone with additional gain(s) of chromosomes 13 and/or 20. Seven cases had gain of chromosome 13 and/or gain of chromosome 20 in the largest clone, suggesting that a clone with either of these changes was present before the changes in chromosome 7 copy number took place. On the basis of the results of this combined meta- and interphase cytogenetic study, we conclude that gains of chromosomes 7, 13 and 20 are common in colorectal adenomas and that the trisomies usually are present in a large proportion of the cells. They seem to be primary chromosome aberrations in some adenomas, whereas in others they arise secondarily as part of the clonal evolution. Although the first gain usually is of chromosome 7, it is evident that it is the end result of the chromosomal aberrations, not the exact sequence in which they occur, that determines the pathogenetic consequences.
Copyright 2001 Wiley-Liss, Inc.