Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) is characterized by intratumoral heterogeneity as to both histomorphology and genetic changes, displaying a wide variety of numerical chromosome aberrations the most common of which are monosomy 10 and trisomy 7. Moreover, GBM in vitro are known to have variable karyotypes within a given tumor cell culture leading to rapid karyotype evolution through a high incidence of secondary numerical chromosome aberrations. The aim of our study was to investigate to what extent this mitotic instability of glioblastoma cells is also present in vivo. We assessed the spatial distribution patterns of numerical chromosome aberrations in vivo in a series of 24 GBM using two-color in situ hybridization for chromosomes 7/10, 8/17, and 12/18 on consecutive 6-microm paraffin-embedded tissue slides. The chromosome aberration patterns were compared with the histomorphology of the investigated tumor assessed from a consecutive HE-stained section, and with the in vitro karyotype of cell cultures established from the tumors. All investigated chromosomes showed mitotic instability, i.e., numerical aberrations within significant amounts of tumor cells in a scattered distribution through the tumor tissue. As to chromosomes 10 and 17, only monosomy occurred, as to chromosome 7 only trisomy/polysomy, apparently as a result of selection in favor of the respective aberration. Conversely, chromosomes 8, 12, and 18 displayed scattered patterns of monosomy as well as trisomy within a given tumor reflecting a high mitotic error rate without selective effects. The karyotypes of the tumor cell cultures showed less variability of numerical aberrations apparently due to clonal adaptation to in vitro conditions. We conclude that glioblastoma cells in vivo are characterized by an extensive tendency to mitotic errors. The resulting clonal diversity of chromosomally aberrant cells may be an important biological constituent of the well-known ability of glioblastomas to preserve viable tumor cell clones under adaptive stress in vivo, in clinical terms to rapidly recur after antitumoral therapy including radio- or chemotherapy.
Copyright 2001 S. Karger AG, Basel