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Leuk Res. 2001 Jul;25(7):595-602.

Myelomastocytic overlap syndromes: biology, criteria, and relationship to mastocytosis.

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  • 1Department of Internal Medicine I, Division of Hematology and Hemostaseology, University of Vienna, Währinger Gürtel 18-20, 1090 Vienna, Austria.


Although mast cells (MC) appear to be myeloid cells, MC lineage involvement in myelogenous malignancies has been described only rarely. Based on clonal evolution, biology of afflicted cells, and disease criteria, three major groups of patients have been recognized: The first meets criteria for both diagnoses 'systemic mastocytosis' and 'associated hematologic clonal non-mast cell lineage disease (AHNMD)'. In such patients, myeloproliferative (MPS) or myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS), or acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is diagnosed apart from mastocytosis. In a second group of patients, large numbers of very immature MC-lineage cells (metachromatically granulated blast-like cells) are detectable, but the criteria to diagnose mastocytosis are not met. These patients have advanced myeloid neoplasms (MDS or MPS with blast cell increase, or AML) and variably suffer from mediator-related symptoms (flush, GI-tract ulcer, diarrhoea, coagulopathy). In some cases, the disease mimics mast cell- or basophilic leukemia. In contrast to basophilic leukemia, however, the metachromatic cells are strongly KIT+ and tryptase+. In contrast to true mast cell leukemia (MCL), MC do not form multifocal dense infiltrates in the bone marrow. Also, MC lack CD2 and CD25, and the C-KIT mutation Asp-816-Val. We propose the term 'myelomastocytic leukemia' or 'myelodysplastic mast cell syndrome' for these cases. In a third group of patients, myeloid neoplasms (MDS, MPS, AML) show constitutive expression of MC-associated antigens (tryptase, histamine) or mastocytosis-related gene defects (mutated C-KIT) without significant increase in metachromatic cells or criteria of mastocytosis. Whether these neoplasms display aberrant gene expression (or gene defects) or represent 'pre-pre-mast cell leukemias', remains unknown.

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