A marker chromosome in post-transplant bone marrow
© The Author(s). 2016
Received: 15 March 2016
Accepted: 12 May 2016
Published: 1 June 2016
Detection of small supernumerary marker chromosomes in karyotype analysis represents a diagnostic challenge. While such markers are usually detected during cytogenetic studies of constitutional chromosome abnormalities, they have also been found in specimens submitted from patients with acquired malignancies. We report here the detection of a marker chromosome in a bone marrow specimen from a patient who received a bone marrow transplantation. We discuss the importance of proper characterization and interpretation of marker chromosomes in clinical practice.
KeywordsMarker chromosomes Isodicentric chromosomes FISH Bone marrow transplantation
Letter to Editor
We read with interest of an article recently published in Molecular Cytogenetics by Wang et al.  entitled “Copy number changes and methylation patterns in an isodicentric and a ring chromosome of 15q11-13: report of two cases and review of literature.” We would like to extend the discussion of marker chromosomes and report our finding of a small supernumerary marker chromosome in a patient who received a bone marrow transplantation.
Marker chromosomes and ring chromosomes are structurally abnormal chromosomes of unknown origin. Small supernumerary marker chromosomes frequently represent a challenge in cytogenetic diagnosis. Accurate characterization of such marker chromosomes is of diagnostic and management significance. In a recent book, “Small supernumerary marker chromosomes (sSMC): a guide for human geneticists and clinicians,” Dr. Thomas Liehr  provided extensive review and discussion on the topic, and categorized patients with sSMC into four groups: 1) prenatally studied ones (with and without sonographic abnormalities), 2) postnatally examined adults with fertility problems, 3) children and adults with unclear mental retardation, developmental delay, and/or dysmorphism, and 4) patients in which sSMC can be a secondary finding when cytogenetic analysis is done for other reasons. While the discussion of marker chromosomes usually involves cytogenetic study of constitutional chromosome abnormalities, either during prenatal diagnosis or delineating pathogenesis of postnatal cases, marker chromosomes of unknown origin have also been detected during karyotype analysis of specimens from patients with acquired malignancies. Proper characterization and interpretation of observed marker chromosomes is important in cytogenetic diagnosis, which can also guide clinical management.
The sex mismatch bone marrow transplantation in this case facilitated the recognition of the marker to be donor cell in origin. We report this case here to demonstrate that incidental findings are not uncommon in clinical settings, and that the diagnostic laboratories should provide informative interpretation to help the understanding of usual findings.
In the study by Wang et al. , the authors combined karyotyping, FISH, microarray, and methylation-specific multiplex ligation-dependent probe amplification approaches to effectively determine the origin, size, and epigenetic pattern of unknown marker chromosomes in two diagnostic specimens. Evaluation of the methylation pattern of markers and rings originating from chromosome 15 is of clinical significance because the Prader-Willi/Angelman syndrome critical region of 15q11-q13 contains many imprinting genes and shows the parental-origin effects [4, 5]. We performed FISH following karyotype analysis to determine that the marker is an isodicentric chromosome 15, because this was an incidental observation in a post-transplant bone marrow, the marker seemed to be from donor cells and the donor is a healthy individual.
We report this case to raise the awareness that benign constitutional chromosome abnormalities can be occasionally seen in specimens submitted for cytogenetic study of acquired malignancies. Application of molecular cytogenetic techniques, such as multicolor FISH [6, 7] and microarray analysis [1, 8], would enable us to accurately characterize marker or mosaic marker chromosomes in patient specimens and contribute to improved patient care.
The authors would like to thank cytogenetics lab in Johns Hopkins University for its contribution and assistance in cytogenetic diagnosis.
Availability of materials
All the reagents and equipment used for this study are readily available.
LM and YN reviewed this case and wrote this report. KP performed SNP array analysis. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.
The authors declare that they have no competing interests.
Our review and report of this case is in compliance with the Johns Hopkins IRB procedures and policies.
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