JAK2 unmutated erythrocytosis: current diagnostic approach and therapeutic views

Naseema Gangat, Natasha Szuber, Animesh Pardanani, Ayalew Tefferi

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


JAK2 unmutated or non-polycythemia vera (PV) erythrocytosis encompasses both hereditary and acquired conditions. A systematic diagnostic approach begins with documentation of historical hematocrit (Hct)/hemoglobin (Hgb) measurements and classification of the process as life-long/unknown duration or acquired. Further investigation in both categories is facilitated by determination of serum erythropoietin level (EPO). Workup for hereditary/congenital erythrocytosis requires documentation of family history and laboratory screening for high-oxygen affinity hemoglobin variants, 2, 3 biphosphoglycerate deficiency, and germline mutations that are known to alter cellular oxygen sensing (e.g., PHD2, HIF2A, VHL) or EPO signaling (e.g., EPOR mutations); the latter is uniquely associated with subnormal EPO. Acquired erythrocytosis is often elicited by central or peripheral hypoxia resulting from cardiopulmonary disease/high-altitude dwelling or renal artery stenosis, respectively; EPO in the former instance is often normal (compensated by negative feed-back). Other conditions associated with acquired erythrocytosis include EPO-producing tumors and the use of drugs that promote erythropoiesis (e.g., testosterone, erythropoiesis stimulating agents). “Idiopathic erythrocytosis” loosely refers to an otherwise not explained situation. Historically, management of non-PV erythrocytosis has been conflicted by unfounded concerns regarding thrombosis risk, stemming from limited phenotypic characterization, save for Chuvash polycythemia, well-known for its thrombotic tendency. In general, cytoreductive therapy should be avoided and phlebotomy is seldom warranted where frequency is determined by symptom control rather than Hct threshold. Although not supported by hard evidence, cardiovascular risk optimization and low-dose aspirin use are often advised. Application of modern genetic tests and development of controlled therapeutic intervention trials are needed to advance current clinical practice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2166-2181
Number of pages16
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hematology
  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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