Clonal Hematopoiesis: Origins and determinants of evolution

Lourdes M. Mendez, Mrinal M. Patnaik

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The accrual of somatic mutations is a byproduct of aging. When a clone bearing a somatic genetic alteration, conferring comparative competitive advantage, displays sufficient outgrowth to become detectable amongst an otherwise polyclonal background in the hematopoietic system, this is called clonal hematopoiesis (CH). Somatic genetic alterations observed in CH include point mutations in cancer related genes, mosaic chromosomal alterations or a combination of these. Interestingly, clonal hematopoiesis (CH) can also occur with somatic variants in genes without a known role in cancer and in the absence of a somatic genetic alteration through a process that has been described as ‘genetic drift’. Clonal hematopoiesis of indeterminate significance (CHIP), is age-related and defined by the presence of somatic point mutations in cancer related genes, in the absence of cytopenias or a diagnosis of hematologic neoplasm, with a variant allele fraction ≥ 2 %. Remarkably, the increased mortality associated with CHIP is largely due to cardiovascular disease. Subsequently, CHIP has been associated with a myriad of age-related conditions such as Alzheimer's Disease, osteoporosis, CVA and COPD. CHIP is associated with an increased risk of hematologic malignancies, particularly myeloid neoplasms, with the risk rising with increasing clone size and clonal complexity. Mechanisms regulating clonal evolution and progression to hematologic malignancies remain to be defined. However, observations on context specific CH arising in the setting of bone marrow failure states, or on exposure to chemotherapy and radiation therapy, suggest that CH reflects context specific selection pressures and constraint-escape mechanisms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number107076
JournalLeukemia Research
StatePublished - Jun 2023


  • CCUS
  • CHIP
  • Clonal evolution
  • Clonal hematopoiesis
  • Clonal origin
  • Mosaic chromosomal alterations

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hematology
  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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