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Prolonged exposure to acid and bile induces chromosome abnormalities that precede malignant transformation of benign Barrett’s epithelium

Manisha Bajpai1, Hana Aviv2 and Kiron M Das1*

Author Affiliations

1 Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Department of Medicine, UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, 1 Robert Wood Johnson Place, New Brunswick, NJ, 08903, USA

2 Department of Pathology, UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, 1 Robert Wood Johnson Place, New Brunswick, NJ, 08903, USA

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Molecular Cytogenetics 2012, 5:43  doi:10.1186/1755-8166-5-43

Published: 29 November 2012


Barrett’s esophagus (BE) is an asymptomatic, pre-malignant condition of the esophagus that can progress to esophageal adenocarcinoma (EAC). BE arises typically in individuals with long-standing gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). The neoplastic progression of BE has been extensively studied histologically and defined as a metaplasia- dyplasia- carcinoma sequence. However the genetic basis of this process is poorly understood. It is conceived that preclinical models of BE may facilitate discovery of molecular markers due to ease of longitudinal sampling. Clinical markers to stratify the patients at higher risk are vital to institute appropriate therapeutic intervention since EAC has very poor prognosis. We developed a dynamic in-vitro BE carcinogenesis (BEC) model by exposing naïve Barrett’s epithelium cell line (BAR-T) to acid and bile at pH4 (B4), 5min/day for a year. The BEC model acquired malignant characteristics after chronic repeated exposure to B4 similar to the sequential progression of BE to EAC in vivo.

To study cytogenetic changes during progressive transformation in the BEC model.

We observed that the BAR-T cells progressively acquired several chromosomal abnormalities in the BEC model. Evidence of chromosomal loss (-Y) rearrangements [t(10;16) and dup (11q)] and clonal selection appeared during the early stages of the BEC model. Clonal selection resulted in a stabilized monoclonal population of cells that had a changed morphology and formed colony in soft agar. BAR-T cells grown in parallel without any exposure did not show any of these abnormalities.

Prolonged acid and bile exposure induced chromosomal aberrations and clonal selection in benign BAR-T cells. Since aneuploidy preceded morphological/dysplastic changes in the BEC model, chromosomal aberrations may be an early predictor of BE progression. The [t(10;16) and dup(11q)] aberrations identified in this study harbor several genes associated with cancer and may be responsible for neoplastic behavior of cells. After further validation, in-vivo, they may be clinically useful for diagnosis of BE, progressing to dysplasia/esophageal adenocarcinoma.

Barrett’s epithelium; BAR-T; Barrett’s epithelium carcinogenesis model; Aneuploidy; Polyploidy; Chromosomal aberrations; Genetic instability