Background & aims: Approximately 10% of gastric adenocarcinomas carry the human pathogenic Epstein-Barr virus (EBV). The role of EBV in the pathogenesis of these carcinomas remains to be established.
Methods: To obtain a comprehensive overview of chromosomal aberrations in EBV-carrying and EBV-negative gastric carcinomas we performed comparative genomic hybridization (CGH) on 44 gastric carcinomas, 10 EBV-positive, and 34 EBV-negative. Additionally, DNA flow cytometry was done.
Results: Loss of chromosome 4p (P < 0.001) and of 11p (P < 0.02) was exclusively restricted to EBV-carrying gastric carcinomas. In addition, loss of 18q (P < 0.02) was significantly more frequent in EBV-carrying gastric carcinomas. The latter involves loci, which have already been linked to gastric carcinogenesis such as the DCC and SMAD4 gene. In contrast, the losses on chromosome 4 and 11 do not yet harbor a gene related to gastric carcinogenesis. No significant correlation was found between DNA-ploidy and the EBV-status. A number of chromosomal aberrations were found at comparable frequencies in both groups, i.e., losses of chromosome 17, 12q, and loss of 1p. Interestingly, gains of 13q (10/34) and 3q (5/34) and loss of 1q (5/34) were solely observed in EBV-negative gastric carcinomas.
Conclusions: These data indicate that EBV-carrying and EBV-negative gastric carcinomas have different pathogenetic pathways in which EBV might play a crucial role.