Cytogenetic analysis is useful in the diagnosis and to assess prognosis of B-cell chronic lymphocytic leukemia (B-CLL). However, successful cytogenetics by standard techniques has been hindered by the low in vitro mitotic activity of the malignant B-cell population. Fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) has become a useful tool, but it does not provide an overall view of the aberrations. To overcome this hurdle, two DNA-based techniques have been tested in the present study: comparative genomic hybridization (CGH) and amplotyping by arbitrarily primed PCR (AP-PCR). Comparative genomic hybridization resolution depends upon the 400-bands of the human standard karyotype. AP-PCR allows detection of allelic losses and gains in tumor cells by PCR fingerprinting, thus its resolution is at the molecular level. Both techniques were performed in 23 patients with stage A B-CLL at diagnosis. The results were compared with FISH. The sensitivity of AP-PCR was greater than CGH (62% vs 43%). The use of CGH combined with AP-PCR allowed to detect genetic abnormalities in 79% (15/19) of patients in whom G-banding was not informative, providing a global view of the aberrations in a sole experiment. This study shows that combining these two methods with FISH, makes possible a more precise genetic characterization of patients with B-CLL.
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