Patients with idiopathic cytopenia of undetermined significance and isolated neutropenia display low frequency of mutations.
Neutropenic patients with clonal disease have higher risk of developing a myeloid neoplasm than those with no evidence of clonality.
The incidence and prognosis of clonal hematopoiesis in patients with isolated neutropenia among patients with idiopathic cytopenia of undetermined significance (ICUS), known as ICUS-N or chronic idiopathic neutropenia (CIN) patients, is poorly defined. In the present study we sought to investigate the frequency and clinical significance of mutations of genes implicated in myeloid malignancies using next generation sequencing, in CIN patients (n=185) with a long follow-up. We found that 21/185 patients (11.35%) carried totally 25 somatic mutations in 6 genes with median variant allele frequency (VAF) 12.75%. The most frequently mutated genes were DNMT3A and TET2 involving more than 80% of patients followed by IDH1/2, SRSF2 and ZRSR2. The frequency of transformation to a myeloid malignancy was low in the total group of patients (5/185 patients; 2.70%). However, from the transformed patients four belonged to the clonal (4/21; 19.05%) and one to the non-clonal (1/164; 0.61%) group, indicating that the presence of mutation(s) confers a relative risk for transformation 31.24 (P = 0.0017). The VAF of the mutant clones in the transformed patients was higher than 10% in all cases and the genes most frequently associated with malignant transformation were the SRSF2 and IDH1. No significant differences were identified between clonal and non-clonal groups in the severity of neutropenia. Patients with clonal disease were older compared to non-clonal patients. These data contribute to the better understanding of the heterogeneous entities underlying ICUS and highlight the importance of the mutation analysis for the diagnosis and prognosis of patients with unexplained neutropenias.