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Int J Hematol. 2001 Jan;73(1):64-70.

Clinical paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria is the result of expansion of glycosyl-phosphatidyl-inositol-anchored protein-deficient clone in the condition of deficient hematopoiesis.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, Faculty of Medicine Siriraj Hospital, Mahidol University, Bangkok, Thailand.


Paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria (PNH) is an acquired, clonal hematopoietic stem cell disorder in which PIG-A, gene essential for the biosynthesis of the glycosyl-phosphatidyl-inositol (GPI) anchor, is somatically mutated. Absence of GPI-linked proteins from the surface of blood cells is characteristic of the PIG-A mutant (PNH) clone and is also accountable fo certain manifestations, such as intravascular hemolysis. It is unclear how the PNH clone expands and comes to dominate hematopoiesis. In this study, CD34+ cells--committed progenitors (colony-forming cells) representing immature hematopoietic stem cells--and reticulocytes representing the differentiated erythroid cells were quantitated in peripheral blood of patients with PNH. Compared with normal controls (n = 29), CD34+ cell levels were significantly lower in PNH patients who did not have preexisting aplastic anemia (AA) (n = 12) (2.47+/-1.23 versus 4.68+/-1.05 x 106/L, mean +/- standard error; P = .022). PNH patients with precedent aplastic anemia (AA+/PNH) showed markedly low CD34+ cell levels compared with normal control subjects (0.6+/-0.29 versus 4.68+/-1.05 x 10(6)/L; P = .0001). In addition, colony-forming cells from PNH patients were significantly decreased compared with those from normal volunteers (erythroid burst-forming units, 2.8+/-1.2 versu 25.6+/-6.2/5 x 10(5) mononuclear cells; P = .0006; and granulocyte/macrophage colony-forming units, 1.2+/-0.5 versus 13.3+/-3.0/ 5 x 10(5) mononuclear cells; P = .0006). These findings occur in both aplastic and hemolytic types of PNH, suggesting hematopoietic failure in PNH. On the contrary, the numbers of reticulocytes and the reticulocyte production index of PNH patients were significantly higher than those of normal persons and comparable to those from patients with autoimmune hemolytic anemia, indicating accelerating erythropoiesis in PNH. The degree of reticulocytosis correlated well with the proportion of CD59- (PNH) reticulocytes. All of the findings suggest that in the condition of deficient hematopoiesis, the PNH clone arising from the mutated hematopoietic stem cell expands and maintains a substantial proportion of the patient's hematopoiesis.

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