Background & aims: Current models of colorectal adenoma to carcinoma progression do not fully reflect the genetic heterogeneity and complexity of the disease. The aim of the present study was to identify genetic changes discriminating adenomas that have progressed to carcinoma from adenomas that have not progressed, and to refine the current genetic models of colorectal adenoma to carcinoma progression, based on a genome-wide analysis of chromosomal aberrations.
Methods: Sixty-six nonprogressed colorectal adenomas, 46 progressed adenomas (malignant polyps), and 36 colorectal carcinomas were screened for chromosomal aberrations by comparative genomic hybridization, and for mutations in the adenomatous polyposis coli (APC) and K-ras gene. Data analysis focused on cancer-associated genetic changes in adenomas.
Results: Accumulation of losses in 8p21-pter, 15q11-q21, 17p12-13, and 18q12-21, and gains in 8q23-qter, 13q14-31, and 20q13 were strongly associated with adenoma-to-carcinoma progression, independent of the degree of dysplasia. Hierarchic cluster analysis demonstrated the presence of 3 distinct subgroups of adenomas, characterized by unique combinations of genetic aberrations in the adenomas (17p loss and K-ras mutation, 8q and 13q gain, and 18q loss and 20q gain, respectively).
Conclusions: The presence of 2 or more of the aforementioned 7 chromosomal changes was associated with progressed colorectal adenomas and colorectal cancer. In addition, evidence was found that these chromosomal abnormalities occurred in specific combinations of a few abnormalities rather than as a mere accumulation of events, indicating the existence of multiple independent chromosomal instability pathways of colorectal cancer progression.