JOURNAL ARTICLE

Malignant myeloid transformation in congenital forms of neutropenia

Melvin H Freedman, Blanche P Alter
Israel Medical Association Journal: IMAJ 2002, 4 (11): 1011-4
12489493

BACKGROUND: Granulocyte colony-stimulating factor has had a major impact on the management of severe chronic neutropenia--a collective term referring to congenital, idiopathic, or cyclic neutropenia. Almost all patients respond to G-CSF with increased neutrophils, reduced infections, and improved survival. Some responders with congenital neutropenia (termed Kostmann's syndrome herein) and Shwachman-Diamond syndrome have developed myelodysplastic syndrome and acute myeloid leukemia, which raises the question of the role of G-CSF in pathogenesis. The issue is complicated because both disorders have a propensity for MDS or AML as part of their natural history.

OBJECTIVE AND METHODS: To address this, the Severe Chronic Neutropenia International Registry used its large database of chronic neutropenia patients treated with G-CSF to determine the incidence of malignant myeloid transformation in the two disorders, and its relationship to treatment and to other patient characteristics.

RESULTS: As of January 2001, of the 383 patients with congenital forms of neutropenia in the Registry, 48 had MDS or AML (crude rate, about 12.5%). No statistically significant relationships were found between age at onset of MDS or AML and patient gender, G-CSF dose, or duration of G-CSF therapy. What was observed, however, was the multistep acquisition of aberrant cellular genetic changes in marrow cells from Kostmann's syndrome patients who transformed, including activating ras oncogene mutations, clonal cytogenetic abnormalities, and G-CSF receptor mutations. The latter in murine models produces a hyperproliferative response to G-CSF, confers resistance to apoptosis, and enhances cell survival.

CONCLUSIONS: Since Kostmann's syndrome and Shwachman-Diamond syndrome are inherited forms of bone marrow failure, G-CSF may accelerate the propensity for MDS/AML in the genetically altered stem and progenitor cells, especially in those with G-CSF receptor and ras mutations (82% and 50% of Kostmann's syndrome patients who transform, respectively). Alternatively, and equally plausible, G-CSF may simply be an innocent bystander that corrects neutropenia, prolongs patient survival, and allows time for the malignant predisposition to declare itself. Only careful long-term follow-up of the cohort of patients receiving G-CSF will provide the answer.

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