Essential thrombocythemia (ET) is a chronic myeloid disorder that is characterized by thrombocytosis, thrombohemorrhagic and vasomotor symptoms, a long median survival, and a low risk of transformation to leukemia. ET can be difficult to distinguish from secondary (reactive) thrombocytosis, and the diagnosis of ET can only be made after the exclusion of other marrow disorders with similar features. Although ET has been assumed to be a clonal process, recent studies have suggested that a substantial number of cases classified as ET may actually not be clonal, and nonclonality may be associated with a lower risk of thrombosis. The lack of a characteristic cytogenetic marker for ET confounds analyses of clonality and offers no insight into disease pathogenesis. There is controversy over the proper classification of thrombocytosis associated with the pathological BCR-ABL gene rearrangement; such cases are not clearly distinguishable from chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) and should be provisionally classified as CML. New insights are emerging into the role of the megakaryocytopoiesis regulator thrombopoietin (TPO) and its receptor, c-Mpl, in ET and related disorders, but TPO-Mpl dynamics appear to be complex. In some familial thrombocythemic syndromes, mutations in the 5′ untranslated region of TPO have recently been described, but these have not yet been observed in sporadic ET. In the future, global analysis of gene expression patterns may help overcome diagnostic dilemmas, refine disease classification, and lead to an improved understanding of the pathogenesis of ET.
- Chronic myeloproliferative disorders
- Essential thrombocythemia
- Leukemic transformation
ASJC Scopus subject areas