Development of monocytosis in patients with primary myelofibrosis indicates an accelerated phase of the disease
Primary myelofibrosis is a type of chronic myeloproliferative neoplasm characterized by progressive bone marrow failure with worsening cytopenia and in a subset of patients, progression to acute leukemia. Published data in patients with myelodysplastic syndromes have shown that the development of monocytosis in the course of myelodysplastic syndromes is associated with a poor prognosis. A similar occurrence has been only sporadically reported in patients with primary myelofibrosis. Over a period of four years we identified 10 out of 237 cases of primary myelofibrosis who developed persistent absolute monocytosis (>1 × 10(9)/l) during the course of disease (5 men and 5 women; median age/range: 68 years/52-82). Monocytosis developed at a median interval of 42 months from diagnosis (range: 1-180) and persisted for a median period of 23 months (range: 2-57). Five patients died after developing monocytosis (range: 20-188 months) and two experienced worsening disease and became transfusion dependent. Monocytosis was associated with increased white blood cells, decreased hemoglobin, decreased platelet count, and the presence of circulating blasts. In three cases, bone marrow biopsies after the onset of monocytosis showed marked myelomonocytic proliferation with morphological shifting from a typical primary myelofibrosis marrow appearance to aspects compatible with an overt 'secondary' chronic myelomonocytic leukemia. Before the development of monocytosis, 5 of 10 patients carried the JAK2V617F mutation; five patients showed karyotypic alterations. No change in JAK2 mutational status or cytogenetic evolution were associated with the development of monocytosis. Four of nine patients analyzed showed KRAS mutation in codon 12 or 13 with low allele burden. This is the first study correlating monocytosis developing in primary myelofibrosis patients with bone marrow morphology, laboratory data, molecular analysis and clinical follow-up. Development of monocytosis in patients with established primary myelofibrosis is associated with rapid disease progression and these patients should be considered as a high-risk group associated with short survival.