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Pulmonary carcinosarcoma is a rare, biphasic tumor composed of malignant epithelial and mesenchymal elements. Its histogenesis is controversial in light of the presence of divergent cell lineages and the clonal nature of malignancy. To address these issues, we performed an extensive comparative genotypic analysis using microdissection to secure representative mesenchymal and epithelial components from each of six cases of pulmonary carcinosarcoma. Loss of heterozygosity was analyzed with a panel of 12 polymorphic microsatellite markers designed to indicate allelic loss and situated in proximity to known tumor suppressor genes located on 1p, 3p, 5q, 9p, 10q, and 17p. In accordance with the relatively greater biologic aggressiveness of this tumor type, both the epithelial and mesenchymal components showed extensive allelic loss, most notably for 3p, 5q, and 17p. More importantly, we found overall equivalent patterns of acquired allelic loss between the two components on an individual case basis, strongly supporting the monoclonal origin of these neoplasms. Minor differences in the allelic fingerprint between the two cell lineages could be explained by progressive accumulation of allelic loss alterations that appear to occur more frequently in the mesenchymal component of the tumor. The data support the efficacy of microdissection-based allelic fingerprinting to delineate the relationship between different morphologic components of a single neoplasm.

(C) 2002 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.