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Am J Pathol. 2000 Jul;157(1):257-66.

Recurrent genetic aberrations in thymoma and thymic carcinoma.

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Departments of Pathology and Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery, the University of Würzburg, Germany.


Apart from single reported aberrant karyotypes, genetic alterations in thymic epithelial neoplasms have not been investigated so far. In this study, 12 World Health Organization classification type A thymomas (medullary thymomas), 16 type B3 thymomas (well-differentiated thymic carcinomas), and nine type C thymomas, all of them primary thymic squamous cell carcinomas, were analyzed by comparative genomic hybridization and fluorescence in situ hybridization. With the exception of one single case, type A thymomas did not reveal chromosomal gains or losses in comparative genomic hybridization. In contrast, all type B3 thymomas showed chromosomal imbalances, with gain of 1q, loss of chromosome 6, and loss of 13q occurring in 11 (69%), six (38%), and five (31%) of 16 cases, respectively. In primary thymic squamous cell carcinoma, the most frequent chromosomal losses were observed for 16q (six of nine cases, 67%), 6 (4 of 9, 44%), and 3p and 17p (three of nine each, 33%), whereas recurrent gains of chromosomal material were gains of 1q (5 of 9, 56%), 17q, and 18 (three of nine each, 33%). This study shows that the distinct histological thymoma types A and B3 exhibit distinct genetic phenotypes, whereas type B3 thymoma and primary thymic squamous cell carcinoma partially share genetic aberrations. In addition to the possible tumorigenic role, the deletion in type B3 thymoma of chromosome 6, harboring the HLA locus, might play a role in the pathogenesis of paraneoplastic autoimmunity characteristic of thymoma.

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