Congenital neutropenias

Cornelia Zeidler, Beate Schwinzer, Karl Welte
Reviews in Clinical and Experimental Hematology 2003, 7 (1): 72-83
The term congenital neutropenia (CN) has been used for a group of hematologic disorders characterized by severe neutropenia with absolute neutrophil counts (ANC) below 0.5 x 10(9)/L associated with increased susceptibility to bacterial infections. This group of diseases includes primary bone marrow failure syndromes with isolated neutropenias and neutropenias associated with metabolic or immunologic disorders or with a complex syndrome. To avoid confusion, we prefer using the term CN only for the most severe disorder among this group: severe neutropenia characterized by an early stage maturation arrest of myelopoiesis leading to bacterial infections from early infancy. This disease has originally been described as Kostmann syndrome with an autosomal recessive inheritance. Recent pathogenetic investigations have demonstrated that this clinical phenotype includes also autosomal dominant and sporadic cases with different point mutations in the neutrophil elastase gene in a subgroup of patients. Data on over 400 patients with CN collected by the Severe Chronic Neutropenia International Registry demonstrate that independent from the CN-subtype more than 90% of these patients respond to recombinant human granulocyte-colony stimulating factor (rHuG-CSF filgrastim, lenograstim) with ANC that can be maintained around 1.0 x 10(9)/L. Adverse events include mild splenomegaly, moderate thrombocytopenia, osteoporosis and malignant transformation into myelodysplastic syndrome/leukemia. Development of additional genetic aberrations, e.g., G-CSF-receptor gene mutations, monosomy 7 or ras mutations during the course of the disease indicate an underlying genetic instability leading to an increased risk of malignant transformation. If and how G-CSF treatment impacts on these adverse events remains unclear since there are no historical controls for comparison. Hematopoietic stem cell transplantation is still the only available treatment for patients refractory to G-CSF treatment.

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