Thrombosis is a characteristic feature in essential thrombocythemia (ET) and polycythemia vera (PV). Previous studies had focused on thrombotic events occurring after diagnosis and did not always distinguish between arterial and venous thrombosis. Arterial thrombosis in ET has been associated with age >60 years, JAK2 mutations, leukocyte count >11 x 109/l, history of thrombosis and cardiovascular risk factors, and venous thrombosis with male sex (Blood 2011;117:5857). In the current two-enter study, we looked for associations between both driver and other mutations, with first incidences of arterial and venous thrombosis in ET and PV, analyzed together and separately.


Study patients were recruited from the Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN, USA and the University of Florence, Florence, Italy, based on availability of next-generation sequencing-derived mutation information. Diagnoses were according to the 2016 World Health Organization criteria (Blood. 2016;127:2391). Conventional statistics was employed to examine significance of associations, with separate analysis of arterial vs venous thrombosis, occurring at any time before or after formal diagnosis of ET or PV. For the purposes of the current study, only first events were considered.


906 molecularly-annotated patients (416 from Mayo and 490 from Florence), including 502 ET and 404 PV cases, were included in the current study. The Mayo/Florence cohorts included 270/232 ET (median age 57/54 years, 60%/59% females) and 146/258 PV (median age 63/58 years, 52%/44% females) patients; median follow-up was 9.9/12.9 years for ET and 10.7/12.4 years for PV. Driver mutation distribution in ET was 55% JAK2, 27% CALR, 5% MPL and 13% triple-negative. Most frequent mutations, other than JAK2/CALR/MPL, were TET2 (14%; 11% in ET and 18% in PV) and ASXL1 (13%; 13% in ET and 13% in PV).

301 (33%) patients experienced first time thrombosis, before or after diagnosis, including 152 (30%) in ET and 149 (37%) in PV (p=0.03); arterial events occurred in 174 (19%) patients, including 96 (19%) in ET and 78 (19%) in PV (p=0.9); venous events occurred in 177 (20%) patients, including 82 (16%) in ET and 95 (24%) in PV (p=0.007). The number of vascular events after diagnosis was 174 (19%) for arterial and 154 (17%) for venous thrombosis, with no significant difference between ET and PV.

Associations with arterial thrombosis:

In multivariable logistic regression analysis that included both ET and PV (n=906), age >60 years (23% vs 16%; OR, 1.6, 95% CI 1.1-2.2) and absence of ASXL1 and RUNX1 mutations (21% vs 9%; OR 2.6, 95% CI 1.4-4.8) were associated with arterial thrombosis; these associations remained significant (or near significant) when ET and PV were analyzed separately; in addition, JAK2 mutations in ET displayed borderline significance (p=0.05). Overall incidence of arterial events in ET was estimated at 27% in the presence of all three risk factors (i.e. older age, presence of JAK2 mutations and absence of ASXL1/RUNX1 mutations), 21% with two risk factors, 13% with one risk factor and 9% in the absence of all three risk factors (p=0.01).

Associations with venous thrombosis:

In multivariable analysis, including both ET and PV (n=906), JAK2 mutations (p<0.001), higher leukocyte count (p=0.03) and younger age (p=0.04) were identified as being significant. Analysis of ET patients only (n=502) identified JAK2 mutations (p<0.001; OR 2.4, 95% CI 1.4-4.1), absence of SRSF2 mutations (p=0.03) and younger age (p=0.04) as independent risk factors and in PV patients (n=404), higher leukocyte count (p=0.06).

Prognostic interaction between JAK2 mutations and age:

In ET, the overall frequency of venous events was 27% for young patients with JAK2 mutations vs 13% for older JAK2 mutated cases vs 10% for JAK2 unmutated young patients vs 13% for JAK2 unmutated older patients (p<0.001). The corresponding percentages for arterial events were 20%, 24%, 14% and 19%, respectively (p=0.1).

Conclusions:JAK2 mutations contribute to the risk of both venous (younger patients) and arterial (young and older patients) thrombosis, in an age-dependent manner; the association with venous thrombosis might explain the higher incidence of venous thrombosis in PV, compared to ET. Additional studies are required to confirm the observed lower risk of thrombosis in patients with ASXL1, RUNX1 and SRSF2 mutations and provide insight into the underlying biological explanation.


No relevant conflicts of interest to declare.

Author notes


Asterisk with author names denotes non-ASH members.