Cytogenetic studies on Hodgkin’s disease (HD) typically reveal very complex karyotypes with a variety of numerical and structural abnormalities. The confusing thing is that about 10% of cases contain relatively discrete chromosome aberrations, for example a simple trisomy or loss of one single chromosome. Whether these karyotypes really correspond to Hodgkin and Reed-Sternberg (HRS) cells is uncertain. They could, for example, represent early stages in the evolution of the karyotype of the pathognomonic HRS cells. On the other hand, they could be artificial events that occur during the cytogenetic procedure. In our experience, isolated loss of the Y chromosome is the most frequent finding of this type. This aberration is usually considered to be a preparation artifact. However, if one takes into account that in HD up to 50% of male cases with complex karyotypes also lack the Y chromosome, a possible relation to HRS cells must be considered. The technique of simultaneous fluorescence immunophenotyping and interphase cytogenetic analysis (referred to as FICTION) is a powerful tool for studying the nature of cytogenetically abnormal cells. With the FICTION technique we studied four cases of HD in which the chromosome analysis had shown only the loss of the Y chromosome. Our aim was to clarify whether these karyotypes corresponded to the CD30-positive HRS cells. In two cases we found that HRS cells actually lacked the Y chromosome. There was strong evidence, however, that the HRS cells additionally had other chromosome aberrations and thus could not correspond to the cytogenetically determined karyotypes.

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