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Objective: To evaluate the prevalence of spontaneous chromosome damage in cultured peripheral lymphocytes of subjects with suspected presclerodermic Raynaud’s phenomenon (RP), by means of molecular cytogenetic analysis. Methods: We studied 20 suspected presclerodermic RP, 20 idiopathic RP and 25 healthy subjects. As marker of chromosome alteration we used the micronucleus assay. All subjects were also classified as ANA-, ACA+ or Scl70+. To identify the mechanism of MN formation, a MN fluorescence in situ hybridisation (FISH) analysis using a pancentromeric DNA probe was also performed. Results: Suspected presclerodermic RP subjects, showed significantly higher MN frequencies than idiopathic RP and controls (39±15.2 vs 10±2.1 and 9.8±3.5 respectively p<0.0001). Interestingly, subjects with idiopathic RP displayed MN frequency comparable to that of controls. Furthermore, ACA+ subjects showed the highest MN frequencies (44±8.1) as compared to subjects with different antibody pattern (26±7.1). Conclusions: Our results show the presence of higher levels of chromosomal damage in circulating lymphocytes of suspected presclerodermic RP. They also would suggest a key role of anti-centromere antibody in determining the observed cytogenetic anomalies. FISH analysis indicated that both aneuploidogenic and clastogenic events contribute to the formation of MN observed in suspected presclerodermic RP.
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