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The World Health Organization (WHO) classification of the chronic myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPNs) includes eight disorders, some of which are rare or poorly characterized (Table 13-1) but all of which share an origin in a multipotent hematopoietic progenitor cell; overproduction of one or more of the formed elements of the blood without significant dysplasia; and a predilection to extramedullary hematopoiesis, myelofibrosis, and transformation at varying rates to acute leukemia. Within this broad classification, however, significant phenotypic heterogeneity exists. Some diseases such as chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML), chronic neutrophilic leukemia (CNL), and chronic eosinophilic leukemia (CEL) express primarily a myeloid phenotype, whereas in other diseases, such as polycythemia vera (PV), primary myelofibrosis (PMF), and essential thrombocytosis (ET), erythroid or megakaryocytic hyperplasia predominates. The latter three disorders, in contrast to the former three, also appear capable of transforming into each other.

TABLE 13-1

World Health Organization Classification of Chronic Myeloproliferative Neoplasms

Such phenotypic heterogeneity has a genetic basis; CML is the consequence of the balanced translocation between chromosomes 9 and 22 [t(9;22)(q34;11)]; CNL has been associated with a t(15;19) translocation; and CEL occurs with a deletion or balanced translocations involving the PDGFRα gene. By contrast, to a greater or lesser extent, PV, PMF, and ET are characterized by a mutation, V617F, that causes constitutive activation of JAK2, a tyrosine kinase essential for the function of the erythropoietin and thrombopoietin receptors but not the granulocyte colony-stimulating factor receptor. This important distinction is also reflected in the natural histories of CML, CNL, and CEL, which are usually measured in years, and their high rate of leukemic transformation. By contrast, the natural history of PV, PMF, and ET is usually measured in decades, and transformation to acute leukemia is uncommon in PV and ET in the absence of exposure to mutagenic drugs. This chapter, therefore, will focus only on PV, PMF, and ET, because their clinical and genetic overlap is substantial even though their clinical courses are distinctly different.

The other chronic myeloproliferative neoplasms will be discussed in Chaps. 15 and 17.


PV is a clonal disorder involving a multipotent hematopoietic progenitor cell in which phenotypically normal red cells, granulocytes, and platelets accumulate in the absence of a recognizable physiologic stimulus. The most common of the chronic MPNs, PV occurs in 2.5 per 100,000 persons, sparing no adult age group and increasing with age to rates over 10/100,000. Familial transmission is infrequent, and women predominate among sporadic cases.


image The etiology of PV is unknown. Although nonrandom chromosome abnormalities such as deletion 20q and trisomy ...

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