We have analyzed DNA obtained from 10 glioblastomas multiforme and 6 astrocytomas for microsatellite instability, using 17 different microsatellite loci dispersed over 7 different chromosomes.

Six of 16 gliomas showed 1 or more microsatellite alterations in tumor DNA as compared to constitutional DNA. We observed microsatellite instability resulting in allelic shifts in 5 of 10 glioblastomas multiforme but not in any of the astrocytomas. Loss of an allele was observed in 3 glioblastomas multiforme. An imbalance in the intensity of alleles was noticed in 1 astrocytoma and in 1 glioblastoma multiforme. In 1 glioblastoma multiforme, an extra allele was present at two distinct loci. Overall, 5.3% of microsatellite analyses showed an abnormality.

We conclude that microsatellite instability is present at a low grade in glioblastomas multiforme but to a lesser extent in astrocytomas. Genomic instability in human gliomas, therefore, should not be regarded as a mechanism for tumor initiation but as an evolution in tumor progression.

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Supported in part by Nationaal Fonds voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek (NFWO) Fundamenteel Klinisch Onderzoeksmandaat 5/14/5 DP K7.

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