Clinical relevance of the i(12p) marker chromosome in germ cell tumors

G J Bosl, D H Ilson, E Rodriguez, R J Motzer, V E Reuter, R S Chaganti
Journal of the National Cancer Institute 1994 March 2, 86 (5): 349-55

BACKGROUND: Germ cell tumors in men are curable at all stages and are among the most sensitive of all cancers to chemotherapy. An isochromosome of the short arm of chromosome 12, i(12p), has been reported to be a frequent marker of these tumors and to have diagnostic and prognostic significance.

PURPOSE: We evaluated the possible association between this cytogenetic marker and clinical outcome for men with germ cell tumors.

METHODS: One hundred seventy-eight germ cell tumor samples from 150 men were studied using conventional and molecular cytogenetic techniques. Of these samples, 171 were evaluable. Patient characteristics, disease stage, treatment outcome, and disease status were correlated with the observed cytogenetic changes. In addition, 28 biopsy specimens obtained from 28 patients with tumors of uncertain histogenesis were evaluated to determine whether the presence of i(12p) could serve as a diagnostic marker of a germ cell origin for these tumors.

RESULTS: Of the 171 evaluable tumor accessions, 101 (59%) yielded abnormal karyotypes. i(12p) was determined to be present in 79 of the 101 (79%) abnormal karyotypes, which were derived from all cell types and primary sites. An abnormal karyotype was more frequently obtained from nonseminomatous tumors (91/137 [81%]) than from seminomas (10/34 [30%] [P < .001]). Tumors resulting in a cytogenetic failure were more likely to respond completely to chemotherapy than tumors with an abnormal karyotype (P = .004). i(12)p copy number was not associated with response or survival. Fluorescence in situ hybridization using a chromosome 12 centromere-specific probe detected i(12p) in 47 of 47 tumors (100%) already shown to have i(12p) by cytogenetic analysis and in 13 of 49 tumors (27%) exhibiting either an abnormal karyotype or a cytogenetic failure. One or more copies of i(12p), excess 12p copy number, or a deletion on the long arm of chromosome 12 was found in seven of 28 (25%) midline tumors of uncertain histogenesis, thus establishing a diagnosis of a germ cell tumor in these patients. One partial and five complete responses were observed in these seven patients. Only two partial responses were seen in the 17 patients who had no detectable germ cell tumor-related cytogenetic marker (P = .009).

CONCLUSIONS: i(12p) is a highly nonrandom chromosomal marker seen in about 80% of male germ cell tumors with evaluable cytogenetic abnormalities. The presence of this isochromosome has diagnostic and possibly prognostic importance for patients with these tumors.

IMPLICATIONS: Cytogenetic studies of germ cell tumors in prospective clinical treatment trials are warranted to define more precisely the relationship between histologic subtype, serum tumor marker production, and prognosis.

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