Mast cell burden and reticulin fibrosis in the myeloproliferative neoplasms: a computer-assisted image analysis study.
The mast cell has been associated with fibrosis in many different tissues, organs, and different disease processes including hematopoietic malignancies. Mast cells are often increased in the bone marrow of patients with primary bone marrow disorders, and patients with systemic mastocytosis often have a second concomitant neoplastic disease of the bone marrow. The goals of the current study were to determine the role the mast cell has in the pathogenesis of myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPN) and to correlate the mast cell burden with the degree of reticulin fibrosis. We used computer-assisted image analysis of bone marrow core biopsies stained for mast cell tryptase from patients with myeloproliferative neoplasms [31 cases: 12 chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML), 6 primary myelofibrosis (PMF), 4 essential thrombocythemia (ET), 4 polycythemia vera (PV), and 5 chronic myeloproliferative disorder, unclassifiable (CMPD-U)]. Although the number of cases of some subtypes of MPN was small, the results suggested that PMF and ET each had significantly more mast cells than both CML and control cases (P<0.01 and 0.05, respectively, Mann-Whitney test). CMPD-U and PV showed no significant differences from the control cases, but the CML cases had significantly fewer mast cells than our control cases (P=0.02, Mann-Whitney test). In addition, the quantity of mast cells seen in the bone marrows of MPN patients correlated with reticulin fibrosis (P=0.04, Mann-Whitney test). Our studies highlight the different mast cell quantities in different myeloproliferative neoplasms and suggest a direct role for the mast cell in intramedullary fibrosis. Further studies are warranted to confirm our observation and to study the mechanisms by which mast cells contribute to fibrosis in the MPN setting.