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Genes Chromosomes Cancer. 2002 May;34(1):115-25.

Genetic analysis of mediastinal nonseminomatous germ cell tumors in children and adolescents.

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Division of Pediatric Pathology, Department of Pathology, Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions, Baltimore, Maryland 21287, USA.


Primary mediastinal germ cell tumors (M-GCTs) represent a heterogeneous group of tumors that varies with regard to age at presentation, histologic differentiation, and outcome. We retrospectively analyzed archival tissue samples of mediastinal mature and immature teratomas (n = 15) and malignant nonseminomatous M-GCTs (n = 20) with comparative genomic hybridization (CGH). The aim of this study was to define distinct genetic subgroups of M-GCT among the pediatric cohort that may differ in their clinical behavior and prognosis. All pure teratomas showed normal CGH profiles. Malignant M-GCTs in infants and children < 8 years old most frequently showed a gain of 1q, 3, and 20q and a loss of 1p, 4q, and 6q. Gain of 12p and sex chromosomal abnormalities were not observed in this age group. In contrast, the gain of 12p was the most common aberration in M-GCTs that arose in children > or = 8 years old. Additional recurrent changes included the loss of chromosome 13 and the gain of chromosome 21. All ten adolescents with malignant M-GCT were male, and five showed a gain of the X chromosome. In two of these five patients, Klinefelter syndrome was confirmed by cytogenetic analysis or by fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH). In conclusion, CGH analysis of M-GCTs defines distinct genetic subgroups. Mediastinal teratomas show no genetic gains or losses. Malignant M-GCTs in children < 8 years old show the same pattern of gains and losses identified in sacrococcygeal and testicular GCTs at this age, and they lack sex-chromosomal abnormalities. Malignant M-GCTs in children > or = 8 years old show the same genetic profile previously reported in gonadal GCTs at this age. In addition, approximately 50% demonstrate a gain of the X chromosome, consistent with Klinefelter syndrome. Cooperative group studies reveal a significantly better prognosis of malignant M-GCT arising in infants compared to that in adolescents, suggesting that these genetic differences are associated with differences in clinical behavior.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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