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Blood. 1999 Jan 15;93(2):417-24.

A large proportion of patients with a diagnosis of essential thrombocythemia do not have a clonal disorder and may be at lower risk of thrombotic complications.

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Department of Haematology, University College London Medical School, London, UK.


Essential thrombocythemia (ET) is traditionally considered to be a clonal disorder. No specific karyotypic abnormalities have been described, but the demonstration of clonality using X-chromosome inactivation patterns (XCIPs) has been used to differentiate ET from a non-clonal reactive thrombocytosis. However, these assays may be difficult to interpret, and contradictory results have been reported. We have studied 46 females with a diagnosis of ET according to the Polycythemia Vera Study Group (PVSG) criteria. XCIP results in 23 patients (50%) were uninterpretable due to either constitutive or possible acquired age-related skewing. Monoclonal myelopoiesis could be definitively shown in only 10 patients. Thirteen patients had polyclonal myelopoiesis, and in 8, it was possible to exclude clonal restriction to the megakaryocytic lineage. Furthermore, there was no evidence of clonal progenitors in purified CD34(+)CD33(-) and CD34(+)CD33(+) subpopulations from bone marrow of 2 of these 13 patients. There was no difference between patients with monoclonal and polyclonal myelopoiesis with respect to age or platelet count at diagnosis, duration of follow-up, incidence of hepatosplenomegaly, or hemorrhagic complications. However, polyclonal patients were less likely to have experienced thrombotic events (P =.039). These results suggest that ET is a heterogeneous disorder, and the clinical significance of clonality status warrants investigation in a larger study.

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