The World Health Organization (WHO) system lists five morphological categories of systemic mastocytosis (SM): indolent (ISM), smouldering (SSM), SM with an associated hematological neoplasm (SM-AHN), aggressive (ASM) and mast cell leukemia (MCL) (Blood. 2016;127:2391). Recent studies have highlighted the prognostic importance of mutations in SM, including ASXL1, RUNX1 and SRSF2 (AJH 2016;91:888;Leukemia 2016;30:2342). In the current study, we reviewed the cytogenetic findings in 348 cases of SM, in order to clarify incidence and prognostic impact of cytogenetic abnormalities, stratified by WHO morphologic subcategories.


Study patients were selected, based on availability of cytogenetic information. Diagnoses of SM and its morphological subcategories were confirmed by both clinical and bone marrow examinations, in line with WHO criteria (Blood. 2016;127:2391). Next-generation sequencing was performed in a subset of the study population. Abnormal karyotype was further distinguished into favorable and unfavorable class based on previously published criteria for myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) (Blood 2012;120:2454) and myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPN) (Leukemia 208;32:1189). Statistical analyses considered clinical and laboratory data collected at the time of initial diagnosis at the Mayo Clinic, which coincided with collection of bone marrow for cytogenetic studies. Conventional statistics was used for calculation of overall survival and determination of risk factors. JMP® Pro 13.0.0 software from SAS Institute, Cary, NC, USA, was used for all calculations.


348 SM patients were included in the current study (median age 59 years; range 18-88 years; 53% males); 142 (41%) constituted ISM and 206 (59%) advanced SM; the latter included 155 (45%) SM-AHN, 49 (14%) ASM and 2 MCL cases. The SM-AHN cases included 39 (11%) SM-MPN, 36 (10%) SM-CMML, 22 (6%) SM-MDS, 22 (6%) SM-myeloid unclassified, 14 (4%) SM-MDS/MPN, 12 (3%) SM-lymphoid malignancy and 10 (3%) SM-acute leukemia. Adverse mutations, including ASXL1 (19% mutated), RUNX1 (3% mutated) and NRAS (3% mutated) were detected in 30 (23%) of 129 cases screened. After a median follow-up of 21 months, 139 (40%) deaths and 6 (5%) leukemic transformations were documented.

Karyotype was abnormal in 53 (15%) cases and included unfavorable (n=29; 8%) and favorable (n=24; 7%) abnormalities. Abnormal karyotype incidences were 6% for ISM and 22% for advanced SM (p<0.001). Among advanced SM cases, abnormal karyotype incidences were 26% for SM-AHN and 8% for ASM (p<0.001); one of 2 MCL cases displayed abnormal karyotype. Among SM-AHN cases, abnormal karyotype incidences were 0% for SM-AHN-lymphoid, 28% for SM-AHN-myeloid (p<0.001); the latter included 19% for SM-CMML, 21% for SM-MDS/MPN, 23% for SM-MPN, 36% for SM-MDS and 41% of SM-myeloid-unclassified (p<0.001). Clinical correlative studies disclosed significant associations between abnormal karyotype and male sex (p=0.002), age >60 years (p=0.04), thrombocytopenia (p<0.001; 27% vs 10%) and anemia (p<0.001; 25% vs 6%), but not with the presence of adverse mutations (p=0.19).

In univariate analysis, abnormal karyotype was associated with inferior survival (HR 3.0, 95% CI 2.0-4.3) and significance was sustained when analysis was adjusted for two-tiered (advanced vs indolent SM; p<0.01) or multi-tiered (ISM vs ASM vs SM-AHN; p<0.01) WHO subcategories. WHO category-specific analysis clarified prognostic relevance of abnormal karyotype in ASM (HR 4.4, 95% CI 1.0-14.4; p=0.05; figure 1a) and SM-AHN-myeloid (HR 1.9, 95% CI 1.2-2.9; p=0.005; figure 1b); however, the near-significance in ASM was fully accounted for by thrombocytopenia (p value corrected to 0.35) and for SM-AHN-myeloid by thrombocytopenia and anemia (p value corrected to 0.06); further stratification of abnormal karyotype into favorable vs unfavorable categories did not affect the results in ASM but revealed an independent prognostic effect for unfavorable karyotype in SM=AHN-myeloid (p=0.009).


Abnormal karyotype in SM clusters with SM-AHN-myeloid. We found no correlation between abnormal karyotype and adverse mutations. Anemia and thrombocytopenia were significantly associated with abnormal karyotype and accounted for the apparent prognostic relevance of the latter in ASM. Unfavorable karyotype carries independent prognostic effect in SM-AHN-myeloid.


No relevant conflicts of interest to declare.

Author notes


Asterisk with author names denotes non-ASH members.