Detection of numerical chromosome aberrations using in situ hybridization in paraffin sections of routinely processed bladder cancers

Mod Pathol. 1991 Jul;4(4):503-13.


An improved protocol for in situ hybridization (ISH) to routinely processed, paraffin-imbedded tissue sections from transitional bladder carcinoma (TCC) is presented. The protocol to detect numerical chromosome aberrations involved treatment of sections with thiocyanate prior to proteolytic digestion, resulting in reproducible ISH reactions. It was used to explore the influence of nuclear truncation in the detection of numerical chromosome aberrations and the detection of tumor cells among stromal and inflammatory cells, to compare the flow cytometric DNA index with chromosome copy number, and to study chromosome heterogeneity within tumors. For this study, a DNA probe for the chromosome region 1q12 was used. Hybridization of model systems with known chromosome numbers, such as sections of paraffin-embedded lymph nodes, paraffin-embedded human peripheral lymphocytes, T24 and Molt-4 cells with two, three, and four chromosomes 1, respectively, showed in at least 50% of the cells the proper number of chromosome hybridization signals in standard 6-microns-thick sections. Depending on the size of the nucleus, a certain percentage of the cells showed lower copy numbers as a result of truncation. In four cases of normal urothelium in paraffin sections, the percentage of nuclei with more than two chromosome spots did not exceed 5%. Comparison of the number of ISH signals, as detected in ethanol-fixed single cell suspensions of 11 TCCs [five flow cytometric (FCM) diploid, three FCM aneuploid, and three FCM tetraploid], with ISH results obtained in paraffin sections of the same tumors showed that typical numerical chromosome aberrations, such as trisomy and tetrasomy up to nonasomy, could be detected. However, the real chromosome copy number is underestimated, especially in tumors with high copy numbers, as detected in the single cell suspensions of the same tumors. Hybridization of a TCC with extremely large nuclei (DNA index = 3.2) containing six to nine ISH signals as detected in the isolated tumor cells, showed that an indication of these real chromosome copy numbers could be obtained in 6-microns paraffin sections. The accuracy for the detection of the chromosome copy number was even higher in cases where hybridization signals were counted in the mitotic cells. Furthermore, chromosome heterogeneity was detected by ISH using centromeric probes for chromosomes 7, 9, and 18, even though nuclei are truncated in the section. The surplus value of ISH on paraffin sections, as compared with ISH on isolated tumor cells, can be summarized as follows. (a) The focal tumor cell areas with chromosome aberrations can be recognized in the sections and be correlated with the histologic appearance.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Carcinoma, Transitional Cell / genetics*
  • Carcinoma, Transitional Cell / pathology
  • Chromosome Aberrations / genetics*
  • DNA Probes
  • DNA, Neoplasm / genetics*
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Humans
  • Karyotyping
  • Nucleic Acid Hybridization*
  • Peptide Hydrolases
  • Ploidies
  • Urinary Bladder Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Urinary Bladder Neoplasms / pathology


  • DNA Probes
  • DNA, Neoplasm
  • Peptide Hydrolases