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Clin Cancer Res. 1999 Aug;5(8):2025-34.

Loss of heterozygosity in epithelial cells obtained by bronchial brushing: clinical utility in lung cancer.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, Boston Veterans Administration Medical Center, and Boston University School of Medicine, Massachusetts 02118, USA. cap6@columbia.edu


To determine whether loss of heterozygosity (LOH) could be a useful diagnostic test for lung cancer, we evaluated LOH in cells obtained from bronchial brushings. Cells from radiographically normal and abnormal lungs were obtained from 55 patients undergoing diagnostic bronchoscopy. Among 38 patients with lung cancer, LOH was present in at least one chromosomal locus in 79%, whereas cytology was positive for malignant cells in 37%. LOH was not restricted to the airway containing the tumor; fifty-three percent of the cancer patients had LOH in the contralateral lung, as did 59% of patients without lung cancer. There was an association between the extent of LOH and proximity to the cancer. The LOH score, which combined measures of fractional allelic loss and percentage of cells with allelic loss, was greater in subjects with positive cytology and on the side of the tumor. A LOH score >10 was positive in 58% of tumor-bearing lungs, in 13% of the contralateral lungs in cancer patients, and in no patients without cancer. Our results suggest that extensive and widespread allelic loss, as indicated by a high LOH score, may be diagnostic of lung cancer. Additional studies will be needed to clarify the clinical potential of using bronchial epithelial cell LOH as a biomarker and diagnostic test for lung cancer.

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