Essential Thrombocythemia (ET)

2006-08-01   Antonio Cuneo , Antonio Cuneo 

1.Hematology Section, Dept. Of Biomedical Sciences, University of Ferrara, 44100 Ferrara Italy
2.Genetics, Dept Medical Information, University of Poitiers, CHU Poitiers Hospital, F-86021 Poitiers, France

Clinics and Pathology


chronic myeloproliferative syndrome

Phenotype stem cell origin

The disease is a chronic myeloproliferative disorder originating from a mutated pluripotent stem cell capable of producing red blood cells, granulocytes and megakaryocytes. In some cases, B-lymphocyte involvement by the clonal proliferation was documented. T-lymphocytes are not involved by the malignant process and nonclonally derived granulocytes may coexist with clonal cells in patients with ET.


ET has an annual incidence of 1.5 to 2.4 patients /100,000. The disease incidence may show a peak around 30 years in females, with a second peak in the elderly with a 1:1 male-to-female ratio. The average age at diagnosis is 50-60 years.


The disease is diagnosed in the presence of a sustained increase of the platelet count (>600 X 109/L) over at least 1 month without an obvious explanation.
In the majority of patients the disease remains asymptomatic for many years. The disease symptoms are usually related to arterial thrombosis and, less frequently, deep venous thrombosis, which are more frequent in the untreated patient. Death may occur following major ischemic events or leukemic transformation.


The peripheral blood smear shows thrombocytosis without obvious morphologic abnormalities of the white blood cells and erythrocytes. Megathrombocytes may be seen. The bone marrow is hypercellular with enlarged megakaryocytes, which may tend to aggregate in small clusters. At diagnosis a moderate increase of reticulin fibers may be observed, whereas the presence of marked fibrosis is a diagnostic exclusion criteria.


Treatment should be considered for patients at risk of thrombosis (age > 60 years, previous ischemic events, platelet > 1500 X 109/L). Low-dose aspirin or other anti-platelet agents are used. Hydroxyurea is effective in reducing the platelet count and the incidence of thrombotic events. Interferon or anagrelide may be used in young patients.


Leukemic transformation may occur in 3-10% of the cases. Transformation into a stage indistinguishable form idiopathic myelofibrosis was documented in 5% of the cases.


The large majority of the patients survive >10 years. No significant difference between life expectancy of ET patients and age-matched subjects was observed in a study.


Cytogenetics morphological

Less than 10% of the patients show a clonal chromosome defect at diagnosis. Recurrent abnormalities include total/partial trisomy 1q, trisomy 8 and trisomy 9, del(13q) and del(20q). Rearrangements of Chromosome 17, leading to 17p deletion can be frequently associated with Leukemic transformation.

Cytogenetics molecular

a) Fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) and molecular studies :
FISH may be more sensitive than conventional karyotyping for the detection of chromosome deletions

b) Janus Kinase JAK2 mutation :
A valine to phenylalanine substitution at position 617 (JAK2 V617F mutation) is present in 50-75% of the patients leading to constitutive kinase activity. Unlike polycythemia vera, mutated homozygous cells are not found in ET. In 1% of the patients a gain-of-function mutation of the thrombopoietin receptor (MPL) gene can be found, determining activation of the JAK-STAT pathway

Highly cited references

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Pubmed IDLast YearTitleAuthors
163043812005Management of polycythemia vera and essential thrombocythemia.Campbell PJ et al
168682512006MPL515 mutations in myeloproliferative and other myeloid disorders: a study of 1182 patients.Pardanani AD et al
39215711985Evidence for the involvement of B lymphoid cells in polycythemia vera and essential thrombocythemia.Raskind WH et al
20155671991Life expectancy of patients with chronic nonleukemic myeloproliferative disorders.Rozman C et al
167726042006Progenitors homozygous for the V617F mutation occur in most patients with polycythemia vera, but not essential thrombocythemia.Scott LM et al
27907731989Cytogenetic analysis in essential thrombocythemia at diagnosis and at transformation. A 12-year study.Sessarego M et al
121870222002Cytogenetic and molecular genetic aspects of essential thrombocythemia.Steensma DP et al
94277171998Acute myeloid leukemia and myelodysplastic syndromes following essential thrombocythemia treated with hydroxyurea: high proportion of cases with 17p deletion.Sterkers Y et al
125518342003Incidence of trisomy 8 and 9, deletion of D13S319 and D20S108 loci and BCR/ABL translocation in non-treated essential thrombocythemia patients: an analysis of bone marrow cells using interphase fluorescence in situ hybridization.Zamora L et al
89782851997Clonality analysis of hematopoiesis in essential thrombocythemia: advantages of studying T lymphocytes and platelets.el-Kassar N et al


Antonio Cuneo ; Antonio Cuneo

Essential Thrombocythemia (ET)

Atlas Genet Cytogenet Oncol Haematol. 2006-08-01

Online version:

Historical Card

1998-02-01 Essential Thrombocythemia (ET) by  Jean-Loup Huret 

Genetics, Dept Medical Information, University of Poitiers, CHU Poitiers Hospital, F-86021 Poitiers, France

1997-08-01 Essential Thrombocythemia (ET) by  Jean-Loup Huret 

Genetics, Dept Medical Information, University of Poitiers, CHU Poitiers Hospital, F-86021 Poitiers, France

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