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Cell Oncol (Dordr). 2011 Dec;34(6):553-63. doi: 10.1007/s13402-011-0061-5. Epub 2011 Nov 1.

Cervical carcinoma-associated fibroblasts are DNA diploid and do not show evidence for somatic genetic alterations.

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Department of Pathology, Leiden University Medical Center, The Netherlands.



Cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs) have been recognized as important contributors to cancer development and progression. However, opposing evidence has been published whether CAFs, in addition to epigenetic, also undergo somatic genetic alterations and whether these changes contribute to carcinogenesis and tumour progression.


We combined multiparameter DNA flow cytometry, flow-sorting and 6K SNP-arrays to study DNA aneuploidy, % S-phase, loss of heterozygosity (LOH) and copy number alterations (CNAs) in cervical cancer-associated stromal cell fractions (n = 57) from formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded (FFPE) samples. Tissue sections were examined for the presence of CAFs. Microsatellite analysis was used to confirm LOH findings.


Smooth muscle actin and vimentin immunohistochemistry verified the presence of CAFs in all cases tested. However, we found no evidence for DNA aneuploidy, somatic genetic alterations in the vimentin-positive stromal cell fractions of any samples, while high frequencies of DNA content abnormalities (43/57) and substantial numbers of CNAs and LOH were identified in the keratin-positive epithelial cell fractions. LOH hot-spots on chromosomes 3p, 4p and 6p found were confirmed by microsatellite analysis.


From our study we conclude that stromal cell fractions from cervical carcinomas are DNA diploid, have a genotype undistinguishable from patient-matched normal tissue and are genetically stable. Using flow cytometry and SNP-arrays, stromal genetic changes do not seem to play a role during cervical carcinogenesis and progression. In addition, the stromal cell fraction of cervical carcinomas can be used as reference allowing large retrospective studies of archival FFPE tissues for which no normal reference tissue is available.

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