The incidence of adenocarcinoma in Barrett's esophagus has been increasing rapidly over the past decades. Neoplastic progression is characterized by three well-defined premalignant stages: metaplasia, low-grade dysplasia, and high-grade dysplasia. A genome-wide overview, based on comparative genomic hybridization, was performed, evaluating 30 Barrett's adenocarcinomas and 25 adjacent precursors, i.e., 6 metaplasias, 9 low-grade dysplasias, and 10 high-grade dysplasias. The frequency of losses and gains significantly increased in the subsequent stages of malignant transformation. Losses of 5q21-q23, 9p21, 17p12-13.1, 18q21, and Y were revealed in low-grade dysplasias. This was followed by loss of 7q33-q35 and gains of 7p12-p15, 7q21-q22, and 17q21 in high-grade dysplasias along with high-level amplification (HLA) of 7q21 and 17q21. In the invasive cancers, additional losses of 3p14-p21, 4p, 4q, 8p21, 13q14-q31, 14q24.3-q31, 16q21-q22, and 22q as well as gains of 3q25-q27, 8q23-24.1, 12p11.2-12, 15q22-q24, and 20q11.2-q13.1 were distinguished along with HLAs of 8p12-p22 and 20q11.2-q13.1. Approximately one-third of the alterations in the dysplasias were also found in the adjacent adenocarcinomas, illustrating that multiple clonal lineages can be present in Barrett's esophagus. Novel findings include loss on 7q, gain on 12p, and the observation of several HLAs in high-grade dysplasias. Furthermore, loss of 7q33-q35 was found to represent a significant distinction between low-grade and high-grade dysplasia (P = 0.01), whereas loss of 16q21-q22 and gain of 20q11.2-q13.1 were disclosed to significantly discriminate between high-grade dysplasia and adenocarcinoma (P = 0.02 and P = 0.03, respectively). This inventory of genetic aberrations increases our understanding of malignant transformation in Barrett's esophagus and might provide useful biomarkers for disease progression.

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Cancer Research
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

Riegman, P.H.J, Vissers, K.J, Alers, J.C, Geelen, E, Hop, W.C.J, Tilanus, H.W, & van Dekken, H. (2001). Genomic alterations in malignant transformation of Barrett's esophagus. Cancer Research. Retrieved from