Myeloproliferative disorders such as polycythemia vera (PV), essential thrombocytosis (ET) and chronic idiopathic myelofibrosis (CIMF) are clonal hematopoietic diseases with clinical similarities including the risk of transformation into acute myelogeneous leukemia. By definition, these diseases have been separated from Philadelphia chromosome positive (Ph+) CML requiring negativity for the BCR-ABL transcript in PCR studies of bone marrow or peripheral blood. Several groups independently discovered a gain of function mutation of the Janus kinase 2 (JAK2) gene in Ph-negative myeloproliferative diseases. This mutation has been associated with the proliferation of clonogenic progenitors independently of exogenous cytokine stimulation. A sixty-six year old male patient presented with moderate splenomegaly (3 cm under the costal marigin), mild anemia (11.3 g/dl), elevated lactate deyhdrogenase, an increased count of circulating CD34+ cells and a dry bone marrow aspirate. Marrow histology confirmed a prefibrotic stage of chronic idiopathic myelofibrosis (CIMF). Metaphase cytogenetics as well as BCR-ABL FISH were performed on samples from bone marrow, blood and sorted CD34+, CD3+, CD19+ and CD14+ cells from a steady-state back-up leukapheresis. The JAK2(V617F) mutation was confirmed by an allele-specific PCR assay. A screen for BCR-ABL was performed by FISH and PCR in sorted cells as well as in individual colonies (CFU-GM and CFU-E).

Four Philadelphia-chromosome positive metaphases could be detected out of 86 derived from the autologous leukapheresis product harvested and cryopreserved as back-up shortly after diagnosis. The BCR-ABL translocation could be detected by fluorescence in-situ hybridisation (FISH) in 2/16 (12.5%) isolated granulocyte/macrophage colonies only whereas all erythroid colonies were negative. The JAK2 mutation was detectable in all clones and was enriched in CD34+ selected cells. The patient experienced progressive splenomegaly despite the achievement of a molecular response measured by quantitative BCR-ABL PCR after treatment with imatinib mesylate.

Our in-vitro investigations suggest that the secondary BCR-ABL translocation within the myeloid compartment was of minor pathophysiological relevance in this patient with CIMF harbouring a heterozygous JAK2 mutation.

Disclosure: No relevant conflicts of interest to declare.

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