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Clonal hematopoiesis (CH) is common in older persons and is associated with an increased risk of hematologic cancer. Here, we review studies establishing an association between CH and hematopoietic malignancy, discuss features of CH that are predictive of leukemic progression, and explore the role of hematopoietic stressors in the evolution of CH to acute myeloid leukemia or myelodysplastic syndrome. CH due to point mutations or structural variants such as copy-number alterations is associated with an ∼10-fold increased risk of hematopoietic malignancy. Although the absolute risk of hematopoietic malignancy is low, certain features of CH may confer a higher risk of transformation, including the presence of TP53 or spliceosome gene mutations, a variant allele fraction >10%, the presence of multiple mutations, and altered red blood indices. CH in the setting of peripheral blood cytopenias carries a very high risk of progression to a myeloid malignancy and merits close observation. There is emerging evidence suggesting that hematopoietic stressors contribute to both the development of CH and progression to hematopoietic malignancy. Specifically, there is evidence that genotoxic stress from chemotherapy or radiation therapy, ribosome biogenesis stress, and possibly inflammation may increase the risk of transformation from CH to a myeloid malignancy. Models that incorporate features of CH along with an assessment of hematopoietic stressors may eventually help predict and prevent the development of hematopoietic malignancies. © 2020 by The American Society of Hematology.


Julia T Warren, Daniel C Link. Clonal hematopoiesis and risk for hematologic malignancy. Blood. 2020 Oct 01;136(14):1599-1605

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PMID: 32736382

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