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Blood. 2003 Apr 15;101(8):3294-301. Epub 2002 Dec 19.

Discrimination of polycythemias and thrombocytoses by novel, simple, accurate clonality assays and comparison with PRV-1 expression and BFU-E response to erythropoietin.

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  • 1Department of Hematology/Oncology, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX 77030, USA.


Essential thrombocythemia (ET) and polycythemia vera (PV) are clonal myeloproliferative disorders that are often difficult to distinguish from other causes of elevated blood cell counts. Assays that could reliably detect clonal hematopoiesis would therefore be extremely valuable for diagnosis. We previously reported 3 X-chromosome transcription-based clonality assays (TCAs) involving the G6PD, IDS, and MPP1 genes, which together were informative in about 65% of female subjects. To increase our ability to detect clonality, we developed simple TCA for detecting the transcripts of 2 additional X-chromosome genes: Bruton tyrosine kinase (BTK) and 4-and-a-half LIM domain 1 (FHL1). The combination of TCA established the presence or absence of clonal hematopoiesis in about 90% of female subjects. We show that both genes are subject to X-chromosome inactivation and are polymorphic in all major US ethnic groups. The 5 TCAs were used to examine clonality in 46 female patients along with assays for erythropoietin-independent erythroid colonies (EECs) and granulocyte PRV-1 mRNA levels to discriminate polycythemias and thrombocytoses. Of these, all 19 patients with familial polycythemia or thrombocytosis had polyclonal hematopoiesis, whereas 22 of 26 patients with clinical evidence of myeloproliferative disorder and 1 patient with clinically obscure polycythemia were clonal. Interestingly, interferon alpha therapy in 2 patients with PV was associated with reversion of clonal to polyclonal hematopoiesis. EECs were observed in 14 of 14 patients with PV and 4 of 12 with ET, and increased granulocyte PRV-1 mRNA levels were found in 9 of 13 patients with PV and 2 of 12 with ET. Thus, these novel clonality assays are useful in the diagnosis and follow-up of polycythemic conditions and disorders with increased platelet levels.

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