Myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) is a heterogeneous group of clonal hematological disorders characterized by ineffective hematopoiesis which causes peripheral cytopenias and a risk of progression to acute myeloid leukemia. Although various forms of chromosomal abnormalities have been detected in approximately 50-60% of patients with de novo MDS and in up to 80% of patients with therapy-related MDS, their molecular significance for pathogenesis and disease progression is not yet fully understood. Recent technical advances in molecular biology have disclosed more accurately details of pathological chromosomal and molecular aberrations in MDS. Such details could not be identified with conventional cytogenetical techniques, including G-banding. In particular, with recent technical advances in comparative genome hybridization or single nucleotide polymorphism array technology, several candidate genes for the pathogenesis of MDS have been identified, which are located in minimally deleted or uniparental disomy segments. Moreover, epigenetic deregulation of gene expression is also likely to be involved in the pathogenesis of MDS. Accordingly, in addition to classical oncogenic abnormalities, such as p53 bnormalities, or NRAS mutation, various molecular abnormalities, such as TET2, RPS14, or c-CBL, have been identified and/or proposed as the novel candidates for molecular basis of the development and progression of MDS. A better understanding of the causative molecular events underlying MDS pathogenesis is essential for the development and establishment of a more effective treatment resulting in a complete cure for MDS. We here review current knowledge regarding the molecular significance of chromosomal and genetic aberrations in MDS and the proposed molecular mechanisms of action of new agents for MDS, such as lenalidomide or azacitidine.
Keywords: Cytogenetic abnormalities, genetic abnormalities, myelodysplastic syndrome, cytopenias, hematopoiesis, apoptosis, iron overload, acute myeloid leukemia (AML), malignancy, chemotherapy, radiation, drug therapy, lenalidmide, demethylating agents, decitabine