Complex clonal mosaicism within microdissected intestinal metaplastic glands without concurrent gastric cancer

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The transformation of healthy gastric tissue into intestinal metaplasia (IM) is thought to be a critical premalignant step in the development of intestinal-type gastric adenocarcinoma (GA). How such premalignancies contribute to the development of GA is, however, poorly understood.


In this study, the extent and clonal complexity in IM tissue from patients without gastric cancer were analysed by measuring variations of multiple microsatellite (MS) markers.


Even though these tissues are generally regarded as clinically benign, we found extensive MS length heterogeneity between and within individual IM glands, indicating that complex genome diversity is already pervasive in these tissues. Based on a clonal relationship analysis, we found that there exist multiple clones within individual IM glands and that MS alterations can accumulate in these clones. Moreover, we found spatially distant IM glands with the same MS phenotype, suggesting that these MS alterations were progressed by gland fission.


These results provide evidence that genetic instability is an early event, present within metaplastic tissues of otherwise non-cancer patients, and such frequent genetic alterations can be part of the pathophysiological rationale for the requirement of this phase during gastric carcinogenesis.

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