Distribution of aneuploid cell populations in ulcerative colitis with dysplasia or cancer

Gastroenterology. 1991 Nov;101(5):1198-210. doi: 10.1016/0016-5085(91)90068-v.


Flow cytometry was used to detect the presence and assess the distribution of aneuploid cell populations in eight proctocolectomy specimens from patients with ulcerative colitis. Mucosal samples were taken according to a systematic protocol for flow cytometry, the surrounding tissue was examined histologically, and the distributions of flow cytometric and histologic abnormalities were "mapped" within each resected colon. Two resection specimens that were negative for dysplasia lacked aneuploid cell populations. Four resection specimens with final case diagnoses of dysplasia or Dukes' stage A carcinoma had 1-5 regions of aneuploidy or increased 4N (G2/tetraploid) cell populations located in discrete areas of the colon. Two specimens with dysplasia or Dukes' stage C carcinoma each had 14-15 different, often overlapping, regions of aneuploidy or increased 4N (G2/tetraploid) cell populations involving large portions of the colonic mucosa. Analysis of the DNA content of the invasive portion of the tumor from the specimen with a Dukes' stage C carcinoma showed a single aneuploid cell population. The results show that single or multiple aneuploid cell populations are often present in colons resected for ulcerative colitis with dysplasia or early cancer. The distribution of these aneuploid cell populations suggests that each represents a clone of cells that has expanded to occupy a discrete region of colonic mucosa. Additional genetic errors may result in multiple aneuploid cell populations that may be associated with an increased risk of developing cancer. These data, therefore, are consistent with the hypothesis that genomic instability and clonal evolution are associated with the progression to dysplasia and carcinoma in ulcerative colitis. Because flow cytometry can measure aneuploid cell populations in colonoscopic mucosal biopsies, it may prove to be complementary to histology for detecting patients with ulcerative colitis who are at risk for neoplastic progression.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aneuploidy*
  • Carcinoma / etiology
  • Carcinoma / genetics*
  • Carcinoma / pathology
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic / genetics
  • Colitis, Ulcerative / complications
  • Colitis, Ulcerative / genetics*
  • Colitis, Ulcerative / pathology
  • Colonic Neoplasms / etiology
  • Colonic Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Colonic Neoplasms / pathology
  • Female
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Humans
  • Intestinal Mucosa / pathology
  • Male