Primary myelofibrosis: 2021 update on diagnosis, risk-stratification and management

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Disease Overview: Primary myelofibrosis (PMF) is a myeloproliferative neoplasm (MPN) characterized by stem cell-derived clonal myeloproliferation that is often but not always accompanied by JAK2, CALR, or MPL mutations. Additional disease features include bone marrow reticulin/collagen fibrosis, aberrant inflammatory cytokine expression, anemia, hepatosplenomegaly, extramedullary hematopoiesis (EMH), constitutional symptoms, cachexia, leukemic progression, and shortened survival. Diagnosis: Bone marrow morphology is the primary basis for diagnosis. Presence of JAK2, CALR, or MPL mutation, expected in around 90% of the patients, is supportive but not essential for diagnosis; these mutations are also prevalent in the closely related MPNs, namely polycythemia vera (PV) and essential thrombocythemia (ET). The 2016 World Health Organization classification system distinguishes “prefibrotic” from “overtly fibrotic” PMF; the former might mimic ET in its presentation. Furthermore, approximately 15% of patients with ET or PV might progress into a PMF-like phenotype (post-ET/PV MF) during their clinical course. Adverse Mutations: SRSF2, ASXL1, and U2AF1-Q157 mutations predict inferior survival in PMF, independent of each other and other risk factors. RAS/CBL mutations predicted resistance to ruxolitinib therapy. Adverse Karyotype: Very high risk abnormalities include −7, inv (3), i(17q), +21, +19, 12p-, and 11q-. Risk Stratification: Two new prognostic systems for PMF have recently been introduced: GIPSS (genetically-inspired prognostic scoring system) and MIPSS70+ version 2.0 (MIPSSv2; mutation- and karyotype-enhanced international prognostic scoring system). GIPSS is based exclusively on mutations and karyotype. MIPSSv2 includes, in addition, clinical risk factors. GIPSS features four and MIPSSv2 five risk categories. Risk-adapted Therapy: Observation alone is advised for MIPSSv2 “low” and “very low” risk disease (estimated 10-year survival 56%-92%); allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplant (AHSCT) is the preferred treatment for “very high” and “high” risk disease (estimated 10-year survival 0%-13%); treatment-requiring patients with intermediate-risk disease (estimated 10-year survival 30%) are best served by participating in clinical trials. In non-transplant candidates, conventional treatment for anemia includes androgens, prednisone, thalidomide, and danazol; for symptomatic splenomegaly, hydroxyurea and ruxolitinib; and for constitutional symptoms, ruxolitinib. Fedratinib, another JAK2 inhibitor, has now been FDA-approved for use in ruxolitinib failures. Splenectomy is considered for drug-refractory splenomegaly and involved field radiotherapy for non-hepatosplenic EMH and extremity bone pain. New Directions: A number of new agents, alone or in combination with ruxolitinib, are currently under investigation for MF treatment (; preliminary results from some of these clinical trials were presented at the 2020 ASH annual meeting and highlighted in the current document.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)145-162
Number of pages18
JournalAmerican journal of hematology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hematology


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