Myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) are a heterogeneous group of hematological disorders in which diagnosis, risk stratification, and treatment selection are based on morphological and cytogenetic studies in bone marrow (BM) samples. MDS are characterized by several recurrent chromosomal abnormalities, most of them unbalanced, with a widely variable prognosis. The assessment of these genomic defects is essential for a correct risk stratification of these patients. However, conventional cytogenetic (CC) techniques are not sufficient for the study of all MDS patients, because of the high proportion of normal karyotypes (40–50%) and unsuccessful cytogenetics (10%) (defined as the absence of mitosis). Array-based comparative genomic hybridization (aCGH) technology allows the screening of copy number changes among the whole genome in one single experiment and offers a higher resolution than conventional cytogenetics.
To assess the potential application of aCGH in the clinical diagnosis of MDS as complementary tool to conventional cytogenetics.
The study cohort comprises a total of 263 patients: MDS (203) and MDS/MPN (60) patients that have been previously studied by CC and FISH. Among the whole series, 33 (12.5%) patients had no successful cytogenetic results due to the absence of mitosis. In the remaining 230 patients with evaluable metaphases, 42 (16%) had an aberrant, while 188 (71.5%) presented a normal karyotype. Within this last group, 141 had ≥20 good-quality metaphases evaluated, 37 had 10–20 metaphases studied, and 10 patients had ≤10 successful metaphases.
Copy number changes were analysed in all patients included in the study using NimbleGen Human CGH 12×135K Whole-Genome Tiling Array (Roche NimbleGen). Sex-matched human commercial DNA samples were used as reference. Data were analysed using the segMNT algorithm in NimbleScanv2.6 Software. Subsequently all genomic abnormalities found by aCGH analysis were confirmed by FISH.
Using aCGH methodology, copy number changes (greater than 600 bp) were detected in 54 patients of the global series: 4.3% of the normal karyotype patients, 88.1% of cases with abnormal cytogenetics, and 27.3% of patients with unsuccessful cytogenetics. Overall a high correlation (94.3%) between the cytogenetic changes observed by CC and CGH arrays was observed. Thus aCGH analysis revealed the same genomic abnormalities showed by CC in 88.1% of patients. In the remaining 11.9% genomic results were discordant between aCGH and CC, because of the presence of balanced translocations, not assessable by aCGH, and clonal cell populations below 30%. Furthermore, additional genomic abnormalities (n=36) not detected by CC were found by aCGH. The most frequent aberrations were losses affecting chromosomes 5 (33%), 7/7q (17%), 20q (14%), and Y (14%), as well as gains involving chromosome 8 (14%). Interestingly, other abnormalities, mainly losses, were found in chromosomes 4, 12, and 17.
Focusing on the 188 patients with normal karyotype by CC, the aCGH profiling results were concordant with cytogenetics in 98% of those patients with ≥20 metaphases studied and in 92% of those with 10–20 metaphases. However, only 80% of those patients with ≤10 successful metaphases and no changes by CC displayed no copy number changes by aCGH. The most frequent abnormality found by aCGH among these normal karyotype cases was the presence of 5q deletion (2%), while other chromosomes affected were 7, 8, 11, 12 and 20. All these abnormalities were confirmed by FISH.
Regarding the patients with unsuccessful cytogenetics, 72.7% of cases displayed a normal aCGH profile, while 27.3% showed at least one genomic imbalance The most frequent genomic aberrations were losses in 4q (6%), 5q (12%) and 7q (9%), and gain of chromosome 8 (6%). In addition, three of these cases showed a complex karyotype, showing more than 5 abnormalities.
The use of aCGH karyotyping in the diagnosis of MDS could be used as a complementary technique to conventional karyotyping in the evaluation of MDS patients. Mainly in patients with unsuccessful cytogenetics and those with normal karyotype and <20 good-quality metaphases evaluated.
Hernández:Celgene: Research Funding.
Asterisk with author names denotes non-ASH members.