Essential thrombocythemia is characterized by proliferation of hematopoietic tissue predominantly involving megakaryocytes and resulting in marked thrombocytosis. The disorder has some clinical and laboratory features that resemble those seen in the clonal multipotent stem cell disorders chronic myelogenous leukemia, polycythemia vera, and agnogenic myeloid metaplasia. It has been argued that essential thrombocythemia should be classified together with those disorders as a myeloproliferative syndrome. However, without knowledge of the numbers and types of cells that are involved in essential thrombocythemia, this suggestion remains speculative. Three patients with thrombocytosis were studied. The diagnosis of essential thrombocythemia was considered to be firm in two patients and probable in the third one. The X-linked glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase locus was used as a cell marker. Whereas both A and B types of glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase were found in nonhematopoietic tissues, only a single-enzyme type was found in the granulocytes, red cells, and platelets from each patient. These data indicate that the disorders in these three patients are clonal and involve multipotent stem cells.

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