Thrombopoietin-receptor agonists increase platelet counts by stimulating the thrombopoietin receptor. Bone marrow fibrosis has been reported in patients receiving thrombopoietin-receptor agonists. This study determined the extent of myelofibrosis, its clinical relevance, and incidence of phenotypic or karyotypic abnormalities in patients with immune thrombocytopenia treated with thrombopoietin-receptor agonists. The grade of myelofibrosis was assessed before (n=15), during (n=117) and after (n=9) treatment in bone marrow biopsies from 66 patients. The proportion of bone marrow biopsies showing no fibrosis (myelofibrosis grade 0) decreased from 67% pre-treatment to 22% at last biopsy, of which 59% had grade 1 myelofibrosis and 18% had grade 2 myelofibrosis. The median duration of treatment with thrombopoietin-receptor agonists to last bone marrow biopsies was 29 months; patients who had two or more biopsies significantly more frequently had myelofibrosis grades 2/3 in the last bone marrow biopsies as compared to the first. Older age was associated with higher grades of fibrosis. No differences in blood counts or lactate dehydrogenase levels were found between patients with myelofibrosis grades 0/1 and those with grade 2. No clonal karyotypic or immunophenotypic abnormalities emerged. This study found that thrombopoietin-receptor agonists induce myelofibrosis grades 2/3 in approximately one-fifth of patients with immume thrombocytopenia, increasingly with >2 years of treatment with thrombopoietin-receptor agonists. Annual/biannual follow-up with bone marrow biopsies is, therefore, recommended in patients being treated with thrombopoietin-receptor agonists in order to enable prompt discontinuation of these drugs should grades 2/3 myelofibrosis develop. Discontinuation of thrombopoietin-receptor agonists may prevent development of clinical manifestations by stopping progression of fibrosis in grade 2/3.
ASJC Scopus subject areas